The Lowdown On Amalgam Fillings
At one point, mercury amalgam fillings were the norm. Now, they are rarely used in the United States because of the risk of the metal, but that has not completely eradicated their uses. Here is all you need to know about amalgam fillings to help you understand what your dentist is suggesting for your dental needs.
The Use of a Mixture of Metals
Mercury is not the only metal used in amalgam fillings. Tin, copper, and silver are also present, but around 50% of the filling is mercury. This does mean there are toxic chemicals in your filling, and the Environmental Protection Agency classes an old filling as hazardous waste. The mercury gives the fillings the silver color, which is where they get the name "silver fillings" from.
Some countries around the world have completely banned amalgam fillings, including Denmark and Norway, due to the toxicity. However, dentists in the United States can still use them. Some dentists will still promote them as safe while in the mouth.
Mercury Safety Is Debated
Safety in the use of amalgam fillings is debated. People are also exposed to mercury regularly, since it is in fish, in the air and in water. Studies have shown that in low doses of the metal does not cause adverse health conditions. With so many studies around coming to different conclusions, it is very difficult to determine the full truth.
There is no link to pregnancy complications and mercury fillings, although women can opt for different materials if they would prefer. Dentists will encourage pregnant women to have as little unnecessary dental care as possible, and may use temporary fillings until after the birth.
Opt for Composite Fillings
The other main option for dental fillings is composite fillings. They do not contain any mercury and are considered safer. The downside is that they cost more for patients. The fillings have plastic and glass resin instead of metals.
These fillings are the natural color of the teeth, making it easier to hide them. Composite fillings are popular for front teeth and for repairing chips and breaks.
When it comes to dental fillings, you should discuss your options with your dentist. Seek to understand your best options for your health, appearance, and your teeth. If you have any painful cavities that need to be filled, contact a dentist specializing in emergency dentistry in your area to have your cavities filled.