What Are Amalgam Fillings?

Amalgam fillings are used to treat cavities and are made of dental amalgam, a mixture of copper, silver, tin, and mercury which appears to be “silver-coloured” to many people. They have been a part of dental work for over 100 years.

When Are Amalgam Fillings Used?

Amalgam fillings come in handy in several different dental situations, including:

  • When the cavity that needs filling is especially large
  • When the teeth that need the filling are those in the back of the mouth — more chewing force is exerted here, so a filling must be able to withstand this pounding pressure
  • When the cavity is located beneath the gum line — this area does not stay dry for very long, so the quick-hardening amalgam filling is very useful here

What Are the Benefits of Amalgam Fillings?

There are many reasons why amalgam fillings have been in use for decades. Some of those reasons are:

  • Amalgam fillings are cheaper than other metal fillings, such as those made from gold, as well as tooth-coloured composites.
  • Amalgam fillings are durable and long-lasting.
  • Amalgam fillings harden rapidly, making them ideal for parts of the mouth like those below the gum line that are hard to keep dry during the filling process.

What Are the Disadvantages of Amalgam Fillings?

Just like any other dental treatment, amalgam fillings are not perfect. A couple of disadvantages of amalgam fillings include:

  • It is sometimes necessary for the dentist to remove greater amounts of natural tooth structure in order to place an amalgam filling than other kinds of fillings.
  • Since amalgam fillings have a silver colour, they do not blend in with the rest of the mouth, and if the filling is located towards the front of the mouth, it may be able to be seen when the patient is talking, laughing, or eating.

Are There Safety Concerns in Relation to Amalgam Fillings?

Many patients are concerned about the safety of amalgam fillings due to the presence of mercury in the combination of metals. While it is true that mercury can be toxic to humans in high enough concentrations, the amount of mercury used in amalgam fillings is neutralized by the presence of the other three metals, rendering the amalgam totally safe and stable for use in dental work.

There are several professional organizations that vet the use of amalgam fillings for dentistry, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the American Dental Association, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and more. Though there have been many research studies surrounding this topic, no scientific evidence has been found that amalgam fillings are unsafe.

If our patients express hesitancy to get amalgam fillings, our Empress Walk Dental dentists are trained to evaluate the patient’s needs and explore alternative treatments with which the patient may be more comfortable. It is never our desire to cause our patients anxiety or discomfort.

If you have questions about amalgam fillings or would like to set up a consultation at one of our convenient Toronto or North York locations, call Empress Walk Dental now at 416-250-8000!

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5095 Yonge St, Unit A1, North York, ON M2N 6Z4

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