No matter how carefully you clean and teeth and gums, sooner or later you are bound to develop a cavity. When that time comes, to prevent the problem growing worse, it is important to have the cavity cleaned and filled by a dentist. The most common substance used for filling a cavity is known as amalgam. Yet as common as amalgam is, few people really understand what it is.
This article will answer three of the most common questions about dental amalgam.
What is it made from?
Because dental amalgam has a shiny, silvery appearance, it is often described by patients and dentists alike as “silver fillings.” But don’t let this name fool you: amalgam is actually created from the mixture of a number of different metals. Approximately half of its weight is made up by elemental mercury. The rest is constituted of a powdered alloy of such metals as tin, silver, and copper. The reason that elemental mercury is used in such great proportion is that its chemical properties act to bind together the diverse metals, thus forming one homogenous substance.
How is amalgam installed?
Dental amalgam can only be implemented once the cavity has been drilled out, and all portions of decay thoroughly removed. The dentist may then opt to make small alterations to the shape of the void to make amalgam placement more easy and effective.
At this point, working under strict safety conditions, your dentist will mix up the amalgam. In other words, amalgam does not come “ready to use.” That’s because, once mixed, it will quickly begin to harden. Amalgam is made by mixing the powdered alloy of metals together with a portion of liquid mercury.
The resulting amalgam is then placed in the cavity using a manual tool known as the amalgam carrier. Once the amalgam is in place, the dentist will press it firmly into the cavity using a series of tools known as condensers. Finally, the contours of the amalgam will be shaped using a category of smooth-tipped tools known as condensers.
How safe is amalgam?
On learning that it contains mercury, many people express concerns about amalgam. It is true that mercury is a highly poisonous substance when ingested. Fortunately, with amalgam these dangers are greatly mitigated. That’s because, when mixed with the powdered allow, the chemical nature of the mercury changes, becoming less harmful.
In fact, the FDA has conclusively determined that the levels of mercury released by dental amalgam are simply not great enough to cause harm to dental patients. To learn more, contact resources like Brit E. Bowers, DDS.Read More