Amalgam is the silver material you are used to seeing in a dental filling. Prior to the new advancements made, amalgam was the only option available and readily used for all fillings that needed to be performed. Many people have become concerned about the amalgam fillings because of the mercury content in them. Dr. Bien is happy to address some of the most commonly asked questions about this filling and will work with you to help you determine what the best course of treatment is for you.
What Exactly is Amalgam?
Amalgam is a combination of different metals that have been used to make up one solid metal. In fact, the filling is a combination of mercury, tin, copper, and silver. It is a mish-mosh of different metals to form the solid metal piece used for the filling. There are often small amounts of zinc and palladium found inside of the materials too.
Today, tooth colored options have taken over and amalgam is not used near as often as it once was, but it is still relied on. Newer material is not always able to be used in some applications such as on molars and amalgam is the only option available at this time.
Is Mercury Present in Amalgam?
Yes. Mercury is one of the metals used in the filling material and it is there because it allows the metal to become pliable and it allows Dr. Bien to mold it. When mercury is mixed together with an alloy powder, it become much softer and can be pressed into the tooth without any struggle. Dr. Bien must work fast though because the material does harden quickly. Mercury is ideal because it helps your filling withstand biting and chewing force placed on it.
Do I Need to Have Amalgam Fillings Removed?
No. You do not have to make any special arrangements to have your amalgam fillings removed from your mouth. In fact, the only time that they are often removed and replaced is when it is time for them to be replaced, they are worn down, break, or there is a problem with the tooth that needs to be addressed first. There is not enough evidence to show that amalgam fillings pose a serious risk inside of your mouth.
In fact, removing a current amalgam filling before it needs to be removed can actually cause more damage to the tooth and bring up issues that were not being experienced before. If a good amalgam filling is removed, it can release more mercury into your mouth, so it is best to leave them alone until it comes to a point where they need to be removed.
What Are Safe Alternatives to Amalgam?
There are some safer alternatives to amalgam if you are steadfast at not receiving them and they include indium, which is a substance that holds the mercury in place and stops its release, which means that amalgam fillings will not present any type of risk when this substance is present. There is also a high copper amalgam option that contains less mercury and more copper within it. If you want to explore these types of options, it is best that you speak with Dr. Bien first.
Other commonly used material includes gold, resin, and porcelain, which do not pose a risk to patients at all. These options have no mercury in them and the resin option is one of the most popular because it can be color matched to look natural in your mouth.
If you do not want to receive a filling at all and would prefer an extraction, you should speak with Dr. Bien, as this may or may not be the better choice. It helps to know all options before you choose any one.
Is Amalgam Safe?
Millions and millions of people have amalgam fillings in their mouth and they are perfectly fine. Concerns about the mercury content have come up in recent years and people worried that they would die from having the mercury in their mouth, but this has never been proven. There have been many studies that have been conducted and they all show that there is no substantial evidence to show that the use of amalgam should be limited or eliminated. The FDA has backed the decision to keep amalgam in use and they concluded that amalgam fillings are safe for adults and children aged six or older.
If Amalgam is Safe, Why Be Cautious When Handling It?
The reason Dr. Bien has to be cautious when working with amalgam is because she is exposed to it all day and much more than the normal person. She must protect herself from mercury toxicity, which can occur when you are exposed to a lot of mercury in short amounts of time. By working with these fillings every day, Dr. Bien needs some protection from it.
Has Anyone Reported Any Reactions to Amalgam?
There have been some rare cases where a patient will have a reaction to the mercury that is present within the filling. The ADA states that there is, on average, less than 100 of these cases EVER reported. People who are allergic to the amalgam fillings can choose other materials to facilitate their needs and Dr. Bien can help them choose the option that is right for them.
Come in Today for a FREE Consultation
If you are in need of a consultation due to amalgam fillings being in your mouth or you think you need a filling, visit our Fremont office. Dr. Bien is experienced in all types of fillings and can help you choose the one that is best for you and your needs. It is important that you do not hastily have all of your amalgam fillings removed in fear of mercury because there is no substantial evidence to show that they pose a true risk.
If you would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Bien, call Greenhills Dental today.