What Is an Amalgam Filling?

Dental amalgam has been used as a filling material to restore dental cavities for more than ten decades. It is an alloy consisting of liquid mercury and other metals like tin, silver, and copper. 

Although amalgam fillings have now mostly been replaced by tooth-colored fillings, they stand out from other types of fillings due to their strength and durability. 

In this blog, our dental experts at Diana Dizik, D.D.S., General & Cosmetic Dentistry in San Mateo, California, share insights about amalgam fillings. 

What Is the Procedure for Amalgam Fillings?

In case of tooth decay, the tooth is drilled and prepared to accommodate the filling. For amalgam fillings, a thick protective layer of cement is applied over the prepared tooth to protect the pulp and then liquid mercury is mixed with metallic powder under rigorous safety conditions to form an amalgam which is placed onto the tooth. 

Amalgam fillings are initially soft. They harden gradually to become a solid filling. The restoration is finally polished and the process is thus completed. 

Benefits of Amalgam Fillings

Some of the benefits of amalgam fillings are:

  • The strength and durability of amalgam fillings make them unique. They are excellent at withstanding the pressure caused by the biting force of the molars. 
  • With proper maintenance, amalgam fillings do not need to be replaced or repaired. 
  • Amalgam fillings are the least expensive restorative option compared to other types of fillings. They are proven to be the most reliable and effective method of sealing cavities. 
  • Tooth-colored fillings can be placed only in strict saliva-free conditions whereas amalgam fillings have greater tolerance to moisture. 

Are Dental Amalgam Fillings Safe?

There have been claims that amalgam fillings release minimal mercury vapors when placed in or removed from the teeth. These claims of posing danger to your health are exaggerated and lack scientific proof.

To clear this dilemma, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration concluded that amalgam fillings are safe for adults and children over the age of 6. They are regulated as medical devices. 

In order to prevent the release of mercury vapors, a substance called indium has been added to amalgam fillings to retain the mercury. Copper amalgams also have less mercury and more copper content.

To learn more about amalgam fillings, contact Diana Dizik, D.D.S., General & Cosmetic Dentistry at 720 N El Camino Real, San Mateo CA 94401, or call (650) 348-5424 for an appointment.

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