Amalgam Dental Restorations
Dental amalgam is a restorative material that has been used by dentists for over 150 years. A mixture of metals that typically includes silver, copper, and tin, dental amalgam restorations (commonly referred to as “silver fillings”) also contain a small amount of mercury, which has raised safety concerns among patients from time to time.
In response to those concerns, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), American Dental Association (ADA) and other organizations have conducted numerous studies over several decades and have repeatedly found that the small amount of mercury released during placement and removal of amalgam fillings does not cause adverse health effects.
Amalgam restorations remain a safe, reliable, cost-effective and durable choice when it comes to the restoration of decayed teeth. Visit the ADA information on Dental Amalgam Safety for more information.
Frequently Asked Questions about Amalgam
Why is amalgam still used to restore teeth when composite materials are available?
While composite (or “tooth colored”) restorations (fillings) are more durable than ever thanks to advancements in technology, there are still many cases where amalgam restorations perform better (and longer). This is often the case with teeth that are naturally subjected to extensive chewing force such as molars. Mercury is an important part of the amalgam mixture as it contains unique elements that allow it to be manipulated with ease during placement and then harden quickly after. In addition to the benefits of longevity, amalgam restorations are also more affordable than composites.
What is the American Dental Association’s position regarding the use of “silver fillings”?
A thorough summary of evidence ranging from 2004-2010 led the ADA to reaffirm its position that amalgam is a valuable, dependable and safe choice for patients. You can read more about it by viewing the ADA information on Dental Amalgam Safety.
When is it appropriate to have a composite filling?
Composite restorations (fillings) are typically made of a resin tinted to the color of your tooth and commonly referred to as “white” or “tooth-colored” fillings. They serve an important purpose for teeth that are visible when smiling, providing an aesthetic benefit not afforded by silver fillings. While resin composite restorations undoubtedly look better than amalgam, they are generally considered to be less durable and therefore may not be ideal for teeth that are subject to extreme chewing and biting forces. It is worth noting, however, that composite materials continue to benefit from technological advancements, contributing to enhanced durability. The ADA supports composite materials in small or mid-size restorations on teeth that are exposed to moderate pressure from chewing. They are a good choice for a more natural-looking restoration.
The American Dental Association (ADA) Council on Scientific Affairs has concluded that both amalgam and composite materials are considered safe and effective for tooth restoration.
If you still have concerns about amalgam restorations (fillings), please do not hesitate to call our office at H&L Dentistry Phone Number (919) 493-1402. It is important to us that you fully understand all available options when it comes to your oral health.