Amalgam fillings have been used in dentistry for over a century and they are a popular choice of dental filling. However, despite the long period of time over which they have been used, there is really little research or study that has been made about them. Most patients are only content with getting a dental solution than they can afford, rather than looking at what has been said about that solution. Before looking at some of the advantages and disadvantages of amalgam fillings, it is vital that we understand what they are. Amalgam fillings are mainly made up or mercury and alloy powder. Mercury occupies fifty percent of the fillings, while alloy powder also occupies fifty percent. The alloy powder mainly consists of silver, palladium and zinc. The mixture of mercury and alloy powder is mainly distributed in the form of capsules, which are shaken by the dentist to form a soft metallic ball. It is this ball that is removed from the capsule and placed into the cavity. The process of removing the capsule and placing it in the cavity has to be done in a matter of minutes, since the mixture is only viable while it is still soft. As soon as it is removed from the capsule, it starts to harden, so the earlier it is placed in the cavity, the better.
- The biggest advantage offered by amalgam fillings is that they are extremely strong. As has been noted, the fillings are mainly made of metals, so they can withstand a number of environmental elements. They can withstand the biting pressure from the back teeth, which is why they are mostly used in that area.
- Amalgam fillings are relatively cheap, so they can be afforded by most patients.
- Another advantage offered by amalgam fillings is that, they are covered by most dental insurance companies.
Despite the many advantages that amalgam fillings present, they also have a few disadvantages. Notable is that little research has really been done about the disadvantages of amalgam fillings.
- The biggest and probably most known disadvantage of amalgam fillings is that they contain mercury. There have been no conclusive studies about the danger presented by the mercury in these fillings, but research has shown that it could present some damage to health. The FDA has also admitted that amalgam fillings might not be safe, because of their mercury content.
- After getting amalgam fillings, some people have complained of cold and hot sensitivity. However, this is thought to go away with time, or as the patient gets used to the fillings.
- Another registered disadvantage with amalgam fillings is that they do not harden instantly. When they are placed in the cavity, they need some time before they can harden. It is, therefore, recommended that you do not chew on your amalgam fillings until they harden.
- Before amalgam fillings can be placed, some tooth structure has to be lost. In other words, during the process of preparation for the fillings, some structure of your teeth might still have to be removed.