If you’re unable to chew properly, feel pain or suddenly develop sensitive teeth, chances are that you need a filling because plaque has done a number on your teeth. You can confirm this by checking for dark holes or feeling around for one with your tongue. Now one fear which most dental patients have in this case revolves around the use of amalgam fillings. If you’ve heard about their dangers, read on to find out the truth.
A Brief Introduction to Dental Amalgam
Dental amalgam is the conventional dental filling material used to fill cavities. Used for over a century on millions of patients, this filling combines a mixture of metals such as tin, copper and silver. It continues to be used because it’s the least expensive type of filling and the least likely to break. It’s also the easiest to make since all your dentist needs to do is mix the ingredients to form amalgam putty before placing it into the cavity where it hardens.
Rumor Has it that Silver Fillings are Dangerous
50% of dental amalgam is made from liquid mercury, which is why people panic at the idea of using it. Yes, the ingredient has been known to release low levels of mercury vapor which target the brain and kidneys. The FDA’s clinical trials, however, show that the fillings are safe for children aged six and above as well as adults. The mercury released is too low even if 15 or more teeth are covered with amalgam. Even pregnant women and children under 6 are safe since the amount of mercury they even below the oral intake which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) believes is safe.
When Dental Amalgam May Risky
As you can see, dental amalgam isn’t as dangerous as you believed. However, if you’re allergic or sensitive to mercury or the other metals included, you may experience contact reactions and develop lesions. Luckily, there are other treatment options which you can for. Here at Dr. Dental, we provide three other options aside from silver fillings:
- Gold Fillings – Considered the most expensive type of fillings, these can last 20 years or longer without irritating your gums.
- Plastic Fillings – Also called composite fillings, these are made to match the color of your teeth. However, they don’t usually last very long and can easily become chipped or discolored.
- Porcelain Fillings – These fillings are prepared in labs before being sent to the dentist’s office. Like composite fillings, they’re made to match the color of your teeth. However, they’re quite durable, which is why they cost almost as much as gold fillings.
You can discuss which of these fillings you’d like with our dentists, but rest assured that amalgam fillings are just as effective and safe. For more information on filling a decayed tooth, check out our Dental Fillings page.