Dental Amalgam Essay

1376 words - 6 pages

Dental Amalgam
Amalgam dental restorations which are also known as silver fillings are the number one choice for restoring teeth. These silver fillings have been used for over a hundred years to fill in cavities where there has been decay. The question many have is “what is dental amalgam?” Dental amalgam is a mixture of materials containing powdered alloy, metals and mercury. There have been some concerns, however about the safety of this mercury containing filling material. According to the Food and Drug Administration, amalgam is in the same class as gold and composite fillings and does not pose the safety concerns as once thought. Compared to other dental materials, it is the “most studied and tested.” (NCAHF) Some dentists use silver filling material as opposed to composite to restore teeth because this metal filling material is durable, relatively safe and can be placed where moisture control is an issue.
There are many reasons to use amalgam and one of the best reasons is the durability of this material. Amalgam is very pliable and can withstand the wear and tear of chewing on the posterior teeth, such as molars. In some patients, amalgam fillings have been in place for many years without cracking or leaking. “A seventeen-year long study published in 2003 found a significantly higher survival time for extensive amalgam restorations than for extensive composite restorations.” The use of amalgam is very common for pediatric dentists to use on children and shows to be a “viable and safe choice for dental patients”. Another plus for using amalgam is used where there is severe tooth damage. Occasionally, it is used by some dentists for crown build ups. A crown build up is when material has to be added to a tooth because there is not enough tooth structure left after removing decay or old fillings. In order to have enough retention for the crown to stay in place, a build- up is done on the tooth before the crown is made. Also, when using an amalgam alloy for a filling, not as much natural tooth structure has to be removed in order to place the filling. Whereas, when using a composite filling, also known as “tooth colored” or a “white” filling, the retention of the filling requires removal of more tooth structure in order to have the filling stay in place. Replacing fillings can get quite expensive for the patients and is not a very cost-effective choice. Most insurance companies will not cover the costs of having tooth colored fillings placed, which then is another plus for using amalgam. When a filling lasts longer and does not need to be replaced as often, this much more cost-effective for the patient. There are other facts to take into consideration. Patients who have poor oral hygiene are great candidates for amalgam fillings compared to composite fillings. Amalgam tends to arrest decay and this is extremely helpful for a patient who has poor oral hygiene and is cavity prone. Another benefit to having silver fillings is that they are...

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