What is an Amalgam “Silver Filling”?

Most people recognize a dental amalgam as the silver filling that usually turns black after having it in your mouth for years. Dental amalgams are made up of mercury, silver, tin, and copper.  Mercury makes up about 50 percent of the amalgam filling and it binds to the other components to make it durable and strong.  In this tooth talk article we will answer questions of whether mercury is safe and what are some alternatives to amalgam fillings.

Is Mercury in Dental Amalgams Safe?

Mercury in dental amalgams are not poisonous. When mercury is combined with the other components of the dental amalgam, its chemical nature changes, making it essentially harmless. The mercury released when chewing and grinding your food is very small and no cause for alarm.

Alternatives to Dental Amalgams

Some alternatives to amalgam are cast gold restorations, porcelain and composite resins. Cast gold and porcelain restorations take longer to make and can require two office visits and all three alternatives are more expensive. Because the amalgam fillings finally turn black many people want them removed because of esthetics. If the amalgam has open margins and or fractures, I recommend that they be replaced immediately to prevent recurrent decay to the tooth.

I hope this Tooth Talk has help to explain what a dental amalgam filling is and some alternatives that are available. Most dentist don’t use amalgams any longer and the composite resin is the restoration of choice and many insurances are now covering this as a benefit. If you have any questions please feel free to call or email me.

If you have questions call or email me at Integrity Dental Care, PLLC (615) 445-8700 or email dr.jmitchell@integritydentalcares.com with any questions you may have.

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