Why is amalgam used for dental fillings?


This question comes to mind as soon as you see mercury as a main element of a dental restoration material. Today dentistry offers a wide range of filling materials, characterizing by high durability, safety and aesthetics. Moreover, even if not taking into account mercury influence to human body, many people have an increased metal sensitivity, so there is a high risk to provoke allergy and even anaphylactic shock.

Teeth are always under pressure while we are eating. That’s why they are often get destroyed, crumble and sore. To avoid and solve such serious problems, dentists use fillings. An experienced specialist can help to choose the right one that will fit you best. However, despite a big variety of dental restoration materials, some people still have amalgam in their mouth.

Amalgam is a stopping material which consists of several metals including mercury. It’s also one of the most ancient fillings taking place in the world’s history. Dentists started to use it about more than 100 years ago and it keeps being applied even today. This is impressive, isn’t it? So why dental physicians still include amalgam in their practice? One of the reasons is its durability that is able to withstand chewing pressure for at least 10 years (in most cases even longer). This characteristic helps to reduce the frequency of corrections saving your money and time. Moreover, the price of such procedure is very low. However, despite of the abovementioned benefits, amalgam has quite significant disadvantages.

What are amalgam dental fillings side effects that we can define?

One of the reasons we go to dentists is to make our smile healthy and more attractive. Amalgam cannot be used for front teeth because of its composition. You don’t have possibility to choose matching color for your teeth. That’s why in most cases this material is used for the chewing jaw surface. Nevertheless, some patients are more focused on the teeth durability than on their aesthetics. As it was mentioned the amalgam contains mercury. Although the methods of amalgam production have been improved over the years, mercury element is an essential drawback in this material. Its presence can adversely affect health causing various diseases. Mercury is a heavy metal, which has a cumulative effect, staying in your body and ruining it day by day. That’s why dentists don’t recommend amalgam for children up to 15 years old and women waiting for a baby. Some people also can experience allergy or other symptoms caused by this metal.

Besides, amalgam fillings usually do not fit tightly to the tooth, and as a result, there is a risk of caries and suppuration. During the installation of the filling, the dentist often cannot properly restore the original shape of the tooth. In this case, the process of chewing becomes difficult and the patient feels severe discomfort. In addition to this, solidification of amalgam takes about 2-3 hours and next day you should come and polish your new filling.

Main reason to change your amalgam stoppings

If you are thinking about whether it is necessary to change dental amalgam fillings, please, consider the following points concerning mercury and other heavy metals:

  • Mercury chronic poisoning damages brain, kidneys and lungs.
  • It contributes to the manifestation of such autoimmune and neurological diseases as Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis.
  • Even if you have just one amalgam stopping, it can cause problems with attention and concentration, lead to chronic fatigue or insomnia.
  • If you are a woman, mercury from amalgam can penetrate placenta during pregnancy and affect your unborn baby. Some amount of mercury is also found in breast milk.

Final Thought

Amalgam is still used in most countries of the world. In 2009 the WHO concluded that a global ban of amalgam fillings could be problematic for public health and dentistry sector. That is why it is necessary to promote a gradual reduction of amalgam use by preventing dental diseases and promoting alternative safe methods.