Are Amalgam Fillings Safe?

Amalgam restoration, silver cap on tooth

When a tooth starts to decay, dentists may recommend sealing it with a dental amalgam filling to stop the decay. They may suggest a dental amalgam filling. However, you may have heard that amalgam fillings contain mercury and wonder whether it’s safe to put in your mouth. If you have concerns about amalgam fillings, it’s in your best interest to schedule an appointment with our dental fillings/dentists located in Basking Ridge & Morristown, NJ, who can help you improve your oral health.

What Are the Potential Risks of Amalgam Fillings?

Firstly, an amalgam filling, also known as silver fillings, is a long-lasting material of mercury and metal alloys used to fill holes in a tooth after removing decay. These fillings are typically used for teeth in the back of the mouth because they do not match the color of a natural tooth. They usually last at least ten years.

Many patients have concerns about amalgam fillings, as they contain elemental mercury. Unfortunately, there is a risk of mercury vapor being released into the body as the filling wears. These vapors can be inhaled and absorbed by the lungs. Exposure to high levels of mercury has been linked to adverse effects on the brain and kidneys.

Understandably, you may question whether putting amalgam inside your mouth is safe. However, you can rest assured that substantial research has concluded that amalgam fillings are nothing to worry about as they only produce minimal amounts of mercury, which is not enough to create any toxic effects. To put your mind to rest, the amount of mercury you can be exposed to from amalgam fillings is less than what most people are exposed to in their daily environment or the food they consume.

Are There Alternatives?

If you have a known allergy to mercury, are exposed to high levels of mercury daily, or are currently pregnant, it’s best to consider amalgam alternatives. One of the most common alternatives is composite fillings. These fillings are made of a mixture of fine glass and plastic. They are placed on visible teeth as they are tooth-colored. This type of filling doesn’t detract from your smile. Another alternative is gold fillings. This durable filling, also known as inlays or onlays, is much more expensive because it is composed of an alloy of gold, copper, silver, zinc palladium, platinum, and other metals.

Moreover, you could choose a ceramic filling. These fillings often look the most natural as they are made from porcelain. They are also less likely to stain over time as they are more brittle. Glass ionomer fillings are another alternative dental restorative material made from a combination of glass powder and an organic acid. They bond chemically to the tooth structure. These fillings are typically used when a patient has significant decay in a particular area of the tooth below the gum.

As you can see, if you want to avoid amalgam altogether, your dentist can recommend other materials to restore your teeth. At Dental Associates of Basking Ridge, we are prepared to help you determine which type of filling would be best for your situation. If you believe you may need a filling installed or replaced, please don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with our team today.

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