Faqs Of Amalgam Fillings

Dentist Blog

Do you need to go into the dentist for a filling? You may have a choice between an amalgam (silver) filling or a composite filling. Many people opt for silver, since it is durable and affordable. Here are some questions you may have about amalgam tooth fillings.

Are They Safe?

Amalgam fillings do have trace amounts of mercury, so people wonder if they are safe. Colgate.com says that these fillings are safe, since the exposure of these fillings is less than that of the environment; plus, Colgate also says many studies have been conducted that have shown that.

Besides Mercury, What Other Components are in Amalgam?

Amalgam means a mixture or blend, so there are other metals in the filling powder. Fillings contain:

  • Zinc, which helps to eliminate oxidation, or the corrosion of metal when exposed to oxygen.
  • Silver, which helps to give the filling durability
  • Copper, which also helps eliminate oxidation and increase durability
  • Tin, which is similar to mercury in that it helps the amalgam become pliable for placement before setting.

How Are These Materials Safely Mixed?

Yes. Amalgam comes in capsules with a membrane that separates the mercury from the other alloys. Your dentist will use a machine known as an amalgamator (or triturator), which will safely break this membrane and shake up the capsule so that the filling becomes pliable.

If there is any amalgam leftover, it isn't discarded in the office's general waste. Rather, your dentist will use a chair-side trap or infectious waste bag to recycle the capsule and leftover amalgam. When the amalgam is recycled, it can be reused once it goes through a distillation process.

Will the Dentist Place the Fillings Directly into the Tooth?

Fillings aren't placed directly into a prepared tooth. If your cavity is very deep, your dentist will use a base, like oxide eugenol or glass ionomer. Bases can protect the pulp since they are antibacterial materials, and they can reduce tooth sensitivity.

Some bases can even release fluoride to strengthen the tooth. Along with a base, your dentist will place a liner, or cavity varnish. Liners help to seal porous dentin so that the filling doesn't leak into the sensitive areas of your teeth.

How Long Does This Procedure Take; How Long Will the Amalgam Last?

While every dentist is different, placing a single filling will usually take about an hour. If you have multiple fillings, you may need to schedule them during different appointments if you don't have the time. The good news is that amalgam can last a decade or more with good care. For more information on fillings, contact a dentist today.


26 November 2018