Aesthetically unpleasant and terribly painful, cavities are one of the most common dental issues that can put your dental health at stake.
WHAT IS DENTAL AMALGAM?
Dental amalgam is a material used to fill the holes left by decay once this is drilled out from the tooth. A mixture of liquid mercury and a powdered alloy of tin, copper and silver, amalgam has been used in millions of patients for more than 150 years.
To place the amalgam, the dentist must first drill the tooth to remove the decay and shape the hole left by it. Then, the powdered alloy is mixed with the liquid mercury to form a paste that is placed in the prepared tooth, where it hardens to become a solid filling. If the decay has spread too much and the tooth is lost, dental implant treatment can be provided to ensure the healthiness of the neighbouring teeth.
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF AMALGAM FILLING
The main advantage of amalgam fillings is its strength and durability. Also, amalgam is usually less expensive than other types of materials, and it is covered by the NHS.
Although dental amalgams are considered safe for adults and children of 6 years and above, the vapours released by mercury are known to have adverse effects in the brain and the kidneys. However, no link between amalgam fillings and health issues has ever been established.
Some patients may develop an allergic reaction or sensitivity to amalgam, so other treatment options must be discussed for them. Likewise, allergies developed when taking care of dental braces must be addressed by a dental professional regarding other treatment options, such as Invisalign in London. The obvious, aesthetic disadvantage of amalgam filling can be solved thanks to cosmetic treatments like dental veneers in London, which are also able to conceal the visible effects of decay.
Why is amalgam mercury-based?
A liquid state metal at room temperature that is able to bond the components of the powdered alloy into a strong and long-lasting material makes mercury a unique component of amalgam fillings. Has amalgam’s mercury something to do with the mercury found in fish?
No. Amalgam’s mercury is elemental mercury, which releases vapour, whereas the mercury found in fish is methylmercury, which is mainly absorbed by the digestive tract. The human body processes those two forms of mercury differently, having a lower level of tolerance for methylmercury, which makes it more toxic.
Should I get my fillings removed for fear of mercury contamination?
It is never recommended to remove fillings that are in good condition and free from decay, for it involves the unnecessary loss of healthy dental structure and exposes you once more to the vapours of mercury. However, treatment options should be discussed with your dentist in case you develop an allergy or sensitivity to the metals.
If you want to put an end to cavities caused by tooth decay, consult a professional dentist about your treatment options.