Dental Amalgams

Dental Amalgam Dagsboro DE

Dental Amalgam is a dental filling material used to fill cavities caused by tooth decay. Dental amalgam is a mixture of metals, consisting of liquid (elemental) mercury and a powdered alloy composed of silver, tin, and copper. Approximately half (50%) of dental amalgam is elemental mercury by weight. The chemical properties of elemental mercury allow it to react with and bind together the silver/copper/tin alloy particles to form an amalgam.

Dental amalgam fillings are often referred to as “silver fillings” because of their silver-like appearance, although the use of this term is not recommended because the term does not correctly explain the materials in amalgam.

When placing dental amalgam, the dentist first drills the tooth to remove the decay and then shapes the tooth cavity for placement of the amalgam filling. Next, under appropriate safety conditions, the dentist mixes the encapsulated powdered alloy with the liquid mercury to form an amalgam putty. This softened amalgam putty is placed and shaped in the prepared cavity, where it rapidly hardens into a solid filling.

Benefits of Dental Amalgam:

  • Strong and long-lasting, so they are less likely to break than some other types of fillings.
  • Useful in patients that have a high risk of tooth decay, for large tooth preparations, and where moisture makes it difficult for other materials such as resins to establish a bond to the tooth.
  • Least expensive type of filling material.
  • Used for more than 150 years in hundreds of millions of patients around the world.

If I am concerned about the mercury in dental amalgam, should I have my fillings removed?

If your fillings are in good condition and there is no decay beneath the filling, the FDA does not recommend that you have amalgam fillings removed or replaced. Removing intact amalgam fillings results in unnecessary loss of healthy tooth structure and exposes you to a temporary increase in mercury vapor released during the removal process. Intact amalgam fillings in any individual, including sensitive groups such as pregnant/nursing mothers and children, should not be removed for the purpose of preventing any disease or health condition unless considered medically necessary by a health care professional. If you have a health condition (especially sensitivity/allergy to mercury, or neurological/kidney disease), you may discuss the need for removal and replacement with your physician.