Dental amalgam: what it is used for and its possible risks

Uses of dental amalgam by dentists

Dental amalgam, also known as “silver filling” or “silver filling”, is a dental filling material that has been used for many years. It is made of a mixture of metals, including mercury, silver, tin and copper. Although dental amalgam is still an option for dental fillings, there are potential safety risks. Also, there are newer alternatives that can be more beneficial.

What is a dental amalgam

As mentioned above, dental amalgam consists of different metals, including mercury, silver, tin and copper. Sometimes, it may contain small pieces of zinc or palladium.

Dental amalgam is one of the types of glazes that stand out for its hardness and long life, being less prone to breakage, as they withstand a lot of pressure and wear.

Composition of the dental amalgam

Dental amalgam can be obtained by mixing the materials we have discussed in the previous section. It is a paste that is introduced by pressing on the cavity of our tooth and the goal is to achieve a filling resistant enough in time. Excess mercury is removed, causing the amalgam to solidify quickly and hardening over the hours.

The amalgam eventually wears off, leaving the tooth exposed.

Advantages of dental amalgams

The use of dental amalgam is very useful especially when our patient has cavities larger than normal or when they affect the molars or premolars. These are the ones that put the most pressure on the mouth when we are eating or chewing something. Therefore, the main advantage shown by this material is that they are hard, resistant and durable over time.

Possible risks of dental amalgam

Using dental amalgam fillings can be a risk due to the mercury compound it contains, as it releases a small heat source in the form of steam. Mercury helps the filling make it easier to mold, making it harden quickly and durable.

The main concern is the amount of mercury we are giving to our body by the vapor it releases. Although some tests have shown that the amount of mercury absorbed with amalgam is not too much.

Currently there is a regulation when removing fillings that are composed of silver amalgam and it is necessary to comply with a protocol when wanting to replace them with another type of material. Any filling made with this compound should not be removed unless the tooth is damaged or there is a possibility of breakage.

Side effects of dental amalgam

Due to the complex composition of the compounds of this material, it causes them to affect cells and gums. It can also cause allergic reactions in patients or dental clinic workers.

Alternatives to dental amalgam

There are several alternatives that you can use if you do not want to expose your mouth with this material. You can use composite resin, glass ionomer, porcelain and even gold. Many people who have fillings, prefer those of composite resin since they offer you a white hue according to the color of the tooth and has a more affordable price.

At Gross Dentists we are a dental clinic in Malaga with professionals in oral health care. Thanks to our specialized office, we perform all kinds of services. From a filling or dental filling, to other types of treatments.

If you want more information about our services do not hesitate to ask for an appointment with us, we are waiting for you!


Ortodoncista Dra. Concha Gross de Bethencourt

Ortodoncista especializada en el sistema de ortodoncia invisible, extensa trayectoria profesional y un gran número de pacientes satisfechos con los resultados obtenidos tras la finalización de su tratamiento.

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