tooth with filling

Amalgam Fillings

When you think of dental fillings to treat a cavity, you probably think of amalgam fillings. These fillings have been around for about 150 years and have been used to treat cavities and tooth decay in hundreds of millions of patients worldwide. They are silver in color and popular because they are durable and relatively inexpensive, so they provide long-lasting protection.

The Basics on Amalgam Dental Fillings

Amalgam fillings are a mixture of several materials, including:

  • Liquid, or elemental, mercury (about 50%)
  • A powder alloy that includes silver, tin and copper (about 50%)

The liquid mercury binds with the other alloys to form an amalgam. These fillings are commonly referred to as silver because they appear silver in the mouth.

silver fillings

Our dentists use amalgam fillings to treat cavities and prevent future tooth decay. First, we use specialized dental tools to remove the decay. Then we mix the ingredients to form the amalgam and place it inside your tooth where the decay used to be. It hardens quickly and forms a solid filling that is strong, durable and unlikely to break. It is also one of the least expensive materials available for dental fillings, so it’s often covered by dental insurance, which makes it a popular choice for many people.

Amalgam Dental Fillings and Your Safety

Amalgam fillings contain mercury, which may raise concerns for people who are aware that high levels of mercury exposure can be harmful to your health. However, it’s important to note that the amount of mercury in an amalgam filling is extremely low, and multiple studies over the years have shown that these fillings do not put you at higher risk for any long-term health or safety concerns.

Amalgam has an indisputable safety record, and the U.S. Public Health Service issued a report stating that there is no health reason not to use amalgam for dental purposes. When in place, amalgam fillings effectively restore the health and function of your teeth. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Dental Association (ADA) have also reviewed studies and continue to affirm that there is no scientific evidence that mercury exposure through amalgam fillings is harmful for adults or children over the age of 6.

Additional Options for Dental Fillings

While amalgam fillings are perfectly safe, some people want a more natural look than these silver-colored fillings provide. Young Family Dental also offers white fillings for anyone who prefers that option. Talk to our family dentists today about the choices available and we can help you decide what type of filling will meet your needs and fit your budget.

If you think you may have a cavity, schedule an appointment in our Orem, American Fork, Saratoga Springs, Riverton or West Jordan office today for a consultation on your options for dental fillings.

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