Dental Amalgam is a commonly used dental filling that has been used for over 150 years. It is a mixture of mercury with at least one other metal. Amalgam has many advantages over other restorative material, such as low cost, strength, durability, and bacteriostatic effects.
Amalgam is used in dentistry for a number of reasons. It is relatively easy to use and manipulate during placement; it remains soft for a short time so it can be packed to fill any irregular volume, and then forms a hard compound. Amalgam possesses greater longevity than other direct restorative materials, such as composite. On average, most amalgam restorations serve for 8to 10 years, whereas resin-based composites originally only served for about half that time. However, with recent improvements in composite material science and a better understanding of the technique-sensitivity of placement, it should be noted that this difference is decreasing.
There are circumstances in which composite (white fillings) serves better than amalgam; when amalgam is not indicated, or when a more conservative preparation would be beneficial, composite is the recommended restorative material. These situations would include small occlusal restorations, in which amalgam would require the removal of a more sound tooth structure, as well as in “enamel sites beyond the height of contour.”
The American Dental Association Council on Scientific Affairs and the Canadian Dental Association have concluded that both amalgam and composite materials are considered safe and effective for tooth restoration. For more information follow the link below;
CDA Dental Amalgam FAQ
Health Canada advises dentists to take the following measures:
- 1. Non-mercury filling materials should be considered for restoring the primary teeth of children where the mechanical properties of the material are suitable.
- 2. Whenever possible, amalgam fillings should not be placed in, or removed from, the teeth of pregnant women.
- 3. Amalgam should not be placed in patients with impaired kidney function.
- 4. In placing and removing amalgam fillings, dentists should use techniques and equipment to minimize the exposure of the the patient and the dentist to mercury vapour, and to prevent amalgam waste from being flushed into municipal sewage systems.
- 5. Dentists should advise individuals who may have allergic hypersensitivity to mercury to avoid the use of amalgam. In patients who have developed hypersensitivity to amalgam, existing amalgam restorations should be replaced with another material where this is recommeded by a physician.
- 6. New amalgam fillings should not be placed in contact with exixting metal devices such as braces.
- 7. Dentists should provide their patients with sufficient information to make an informed choice regarding the material used to fill their teeth, including information on the risks and benefits of the material and suitable alternatives.
- 8. Dentists should acknowledge the patient’s right to decline treatment with any dental material.