WHAT IS A DENTAL AMALGAM?
Amalgam, often more popularly referred to as ‘silver amalgam’ consists of a combination of metals that serves as an effective filling material. Silver, mercury, tin, copper small amounts of zinc indium or palladium is also used.
Almost half of the material used in a Dental Amalgam is mercury (liquid mercury), and the other half is the powdered alloy of the other metals. Since mercury has the unique property of being liquid at normal room temperatures, it aids in binding the alloy particles perfectly. The liquid is needed to mix with the other powdered substances to form a putty-like paste. When you have cavities, the decay is removed and the space is filled with this putty such that the latter takes the exact shape pf the hollow created. It then eventually hardens to become a durable tooth filling.
WHAT IS THE CONCERN REGARDING AN AMALGAM FILLING?
The concern that hovers around the use of dental amalgam is that it contains certain levels of mercury. Although the levels are low, yet, a certain amount of mercury, is known to release vapor that could be inhaled by the lungs. Prolonged exposure to a level of this mercury vapor, adversely affects the brain and kidneys. Anxiety, irritability, memory loss, headaches and fatigue results from overexposure to the mercury vapors.
DO YOU REALLY NEED TO WORRY?
Mercury is a compound that is available even naturally in our surrounding environment. We are exposed to it each day through foods, water and air. Therefore, the debate against use of amalgam filling does not involve mercury, but the amounts of mercury used in them. However, with FDA’s data in hand, there is no clinical evidence of any link between use of amalgam fillings and health problems.
Nevertheless, today, with the advancement of science and technology, we need to be extra cautious about some other factors to. Fetuses may be sensitive to the toxic effects of mercury vapor. Also breastfeeding mothers need to be cautioned. [The estimated levels of mercury in breast milk that could be attributed to the use of amalgam fillings, is practically well below the mark set by the EPA or Environmental Protection Agency]. Although very little clinical evidence is available on these matters, more research is yet to reveal the real scenario.
FINALLY THE QUESTION – DO YOU NEED TO GET YOUR AMALGAM REMOVED?
If the fillings are in a good condition, the FDA does not recommend the removal of amalgam fillings unless any decay appears beneath the fillings. This is because removal of fillings for no good reason, would result in loss of unnecessary amounts of tooth material. Also, you are exposed to unwanted mercury vapors while the removal process goes on.
WHAT’S YOUR ALTERNATIVE THEN?
Dental amalgams now come with an alternative called indium, which helps retain mercury, such that there is less release into the environment. High copper amalgams are available too. They contain greater amounts of copper and lesser amounts of mercury.
Today, dentists resort to the more popular composite resin material which is tooth colored but not as strong as an amalgam. Porcelain and gold fillings are also available. All that said, it needs to be strongly mentioned that the FDA (Food and Drug Administration ) has certified the use of amalgam as safe and effective, both in adults and children(above the age of 6).
If, You are thinking to consult with dentist for your oral health issues, then feel free to contact us.