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The Details on Amalgam Fillings

Amalgam fillings are the most recognizable fillings out. They’re commonly referred to as silver fillings, although they’re a combination of mercury, tin, silver, and copper. About 50 percent of the mixture is mercury because it helps to create a strong, durable filling that binds well with the other metals. Mercury has proven to be the only element that binds the elements together in a way that makes it easy to fill a tooth cavity.

Is the mercury in an amalgam filling safe?

The mercury in a dental filling is safe. When it is combined with the other metals during the amalgamation process its chemical makeup changes and renders it essentially harmless. Even when a patient is chewing the amount of mercury released is so miniscule it causes no reason for concern. A patient is exposed to more mercury in food, air, and water.

Studies have shown that amalgam fillings are not harmful and that any diseases related to mercury in fillings are based on random claims, not scientific evidence.

Why would a dentist use amalgam fillings?

Amalgam filling shave been used for over 150 fifty years and have been proven to be some of the safest, most affordable, and most durable solutions to filling a cavity. Current estimates believe there are over 1 billion amalgam fillings placed every year.

Dentists prefer this solution because it is easy to work with, safe, can be quickly placed in a cavity, and is affordable for patients.

Why wouldn’t a dentist use an alternative to amalgams?

The dentist will choose the best option for the patient. This means that if a patient can afford a composite filling and wants one, the dentist will use this option (as long as there isn’t a medical reason not to). Filling materials like gold and porcelain are often quite expensive and can require two visits to complete. Additionally, porcelain and composite fillings are not as durable as amalgam fillings. The only material that is as strong as an amalgam is gold.

How do you treat a patient that is allergic to mercury?

Mercury allergies are quite uncommon and impact less than a percent of the population. If a person is thought to have an allergy to mercury, they should undergo testing and, if they test positive, be treated with an alternative filling material.

I have an amalgam filling, should I have it removed?

No. Amalgam fillings have not proven to be dangerous in the least. In fact, the process of removing and replacing the filling would cause unnecessary discomfort to patients as well as additional expense and increase the risk of further damaging the tooth.

Does working as a dentist expose a person to mercury?

The mercury used in amalgam fillings is contained in a premixed capsule, which greatly reduces the probability of a mercury spill. Additionally, today’s mixture contains the least amount of mercury possible, so exposure is unlikely to cause harm.

Mercury in the food you consume, air you breath, and water you drink is likely to be at a higher level that what you would find in a dental lab.

While holidays are certainly a time of celebration and sugary food may be a big part of it, they are also a fertile breeding ground for bacteria and plaque that can cause cavities. Today, ingredients in the water supply and toothpaste help to prevent cavities. One of these essential ingredients is called fluoride.

How does Fluoride Prevent Cavities?

First, it is important to explain how cavities form. When children eat sugar, much of that sugar is left behind. Bacteria use sugar for growth and energy production. Once bacteria metabolizes sugar, they release acid that can damage the teeth. This process is called demineralization. The more bacteria there are, or the more sugar that is in the mouth, the more acid is produced and the more damage that is done to teeth. Maintaining a healthy diet that is high in calcium will help keep the enamel strong to resist the acid demineralization process that bacteria can cause.

Maintain a Healthy Diet

In addition to maintaining a healthy diet, drinking water and using toothpaste that contains fluoride is another effective way to prevent cavities. Many years ago, the FDA decided to add fluoride to the water as a way to prevent cavities from forming in people’s mouths. The body can use fluoride as a component in the enamel. Once fluoride is incorporated as a part of the teeth, they form a strong structure on the surface that helps to resist the acid demineralization process that bacteria generate. Fluoride does a better job of resisting the acid that bacteria produces than the native components that make up the enamel. Therefore, water and toothpaste with fluoride is an essential part of preventing cavities.

Fluoride Accelerates the Healing Process

Finally, Fluoride can actually help accelerate the healing process when cavities are formed. Because fluoride can bond as a part of the enamel structure, fluoride can actually help regrow parts of the teeth that are damaged by cavities. Studies have shown that fluoride actually accelerates the rate of enamel production. If enamel grows quicker, the body can fill the cavities faster and restore the mouth to its normal, healthy state in a shorter time span. Therefore, fluoride is also essential to healing teeth that have been damaged by cavities.

When it comes to preventing cavities, there are certain parts of the mouth that brushing and flossing simply can’t reach. Therefore, seeing a dentist regularly every six months is an important part of routine dental care and maintaining a healthy mouth. For parents looking for an Aliso Viejo pediatric dentist for their children, consider contacting OC Kids Dental and Dr. Cima Mazar-Atabaki in Aliso Viejo, CA. Dr. Cima is a board certified pediatric dentist with an impressive track record of maintaining healthy mouths for many children. Contact Dr. Cima today to schedule an appointment.