Learn everything about amalgam dental fillings here!
Dental fillings are an ancient art. They were the second type of dental treatment to be invented, second only to teeth extraction. Fillings are always changing, from techniques to materials, and they have even become their own specialty known as conservative dentistry. Yes they can be performed by a general dentist – or any dentist for that matter – but that doesn’t mean that a lot of fine artistry and handiwork isn’t needed.
The oldest form of fillings is called amalgam. It is not widely used nowadays, but still has its functions and advantages. Some people, however, strive to remove their old amalgam fillings even if they aren’t defective, because they look bad or for the fear that they are dangerous to your health, but that is not entirely true, as we’ll explain in a bit.
Amalgam fillings are the old silver fillings that most of us have at least one inside our mouths. They are the oldest form of conservative dental treatment (one that doesn’t involve extraction) and are still used by many dentists around the world. Granted that they are currently not the number one choice, especially for the more modern dentists, they still hold some merit with the older generation of dentists.
The term amalgam literally means “a blend”, and that is what they are. Amalgam fillings are a blend of different materials that combine to give strength, rigidity, and longevity, among other characteristics needed for a dental filling.
These materials include Silver, Zinc, Copper, and of course Mercury, which is the one component that people are really scared of.
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Amalgam removal is usually considered as a new filling, and the costs of these range from $110 to $350, depending on the number of surface involved, as well as the location and experience of the dentist.
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Amalgam is a blend of different chemicals including Silver, Copper, Zinc and Mercury, all combining to create a pliable metallic structure that sets after placing it in the cavity.
Side effects of amalgam fillings are quite rare, including electrical and thermal conduction to the remaining tooth structure, creep and liability to fracture part of the tooth under heavy forces.
Nothing lasts a lifetime, and every filling is bound to be replaced at some point. That being said, amalgam fillings possess the greatest longevity among other fillings. Some patients have them placed over 30 years ago and their still OK.
In short, yes. Any time a dentist places any type of restoration on a tooth it weakens and shortens its lifespan. It is said amalgam fillings are more damaging than white composite fillings due to the mercury material contracting and expanding inside the tooth causing stress factures over time.
Unfortunately this is a very common situation in patients with large amalgam fillings which is why this material is often no longer used. The excessive drilling needed to place them, as well as their superior strength makes the teeth liable to cracks and breakage.
These days the use of a white resin material known as composite is used in place of amalgam material. In cases where the filling requires a large restoration a ceramic crown may be recommended.