Dental Tips Blog


Advantages of Composite Fillings

Dentists have been filling cavities with amalgam for over a hundred years.  Amalgam is the silver colored metal that your dentist uses to fill your cavity after he has removed all of the tooth decay.

Amalgam is made by mixing liquid mercury with powdered silver and other metals.  It forms a soft past that your dentist uses to fill the cavity in your tooth.  The amalgam then hardens in place.   Amalgam is durable, relatively inexpensive, and easy to work with although it hardens quickly which means that your dentist has to work fast once the amalgam mixture has been made.

However, amalgam has become somewhat controversial in recent years.  Some experts claim that the mercury in amalgam causes mercury poisoning, especially in children.  These experts say that a small amount of mercury leaches out of the filling and is either inhaled or ingested.

To date, there is little scientific evidence to support these claims of mercury poisoning and the American Dental Association, US Food and Drug Administration, and Center for Disease Control have all concluded that amalgam is a safe and effective substance for dental fillings for most patients.

Fortunately, there is an excellent alternative to amalgam.  Resin composites are made from a plastic material with hard fillers such quartz or silica.  Resin composites are just as strong as amalgam, but they are colored and can be made to exactly match the color of your teeth.  Also, they cure using light so your dentist has much more time to properly form the filling.  Finally, composites are glued into your teeth so they actually add support and help strengthen the tooth.

As your general family care dentist about using resin composites instead of amalgam for your next filling.


Mercury Dental Fillings

An advisory panel to the US Food and Drug Administration recently urged the FDA to reconsider its prior ruling that the mercury in dental fillings is safe.  In 2009, the FDA ruled that mercury in amalgam dental fillings did not pose a health risk for most patients.

Responding to public concern following that ruling, the advisory panel was formed and heard two days of testimony from thirty witnesses.  The panel agreed that the FDA’s 2009 ruling was soundly based on information available at the time, but recommended that the FDA consider information that has become available since the 2009 ruling.

Amalgam has been commonly used for dental fillings for decades.  According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), amalgam is a safe and effective material for dental fillings.  Amalgam is a metallic substance made by a dentist by mixing liquid mercury with powdered silver and other metals to form a putty-like substance.  After removing tooth decay from a tooth, the dentist fills the cavity with amalgam to restore the damage from tooth decay.

Some experts contend that the mercury in amalgam dental fillings poses a neurotoxic health risk, especially for children and fetuses.  However, the American Dental Association and the CDC both maintain that there is no scientific evidence to support the notion that mercury dental fillings are a health hazard.  The results of two clinical trials show that mercury in dental fillings has no harmful health effects in children.

Talk to your dentist if you are concerned about the effects of mercury in your fillings.  Alternatives such as resin composite fillings are an excellent alternative to amalgam.   Your general family care dentist will be happy to explain the advantages of resin composit fillings.

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