Amalgam Fillings

What is an amalgam filling?

Used in dentistry for over 150 years, amalgam fillings were the most common type of filling until very recently. Amalgam is a grey metallic material that is strong and durable. An alloy of mercury, it also contains other metals including silver, copper, tin and zinc.

Unlike white fillings, traditional amalgam fillings don’t provide a natural finish and so are rarely used at the front of the mouth. They are also only suitable for teeth with enough of a structure remaining to hold in the substance due to the fact that it does not bond like white fillings.

Silver fillings are still seen as a practical solution to dental cavities in some cases. The resilience of the substance is particularly useful for those requiring biting surface fillings or patients with a strong bite. However, white fillings are now considered just as strong and long lasting.

The treatment process

After an initial consultation with your dentist, your tooth will be prepared for the fillings. This requires the tooth to be thoroughly cleaned and washed, excess decay to be removed and old fillings extraction. The cavity will then be shaped ready to hold the filling in place and the area will be washed and dried.

Once the tooth has been prepared the silver substance is pressed onto the tooth and shaped into the cavity. Due to the natural of the substance, the filling will take between 24 hours and 7 days to fully harden. During this time, patients are advised to avoid chewing with the tooth.


Do the fillings contain harmful substances?

The use of amalgam in fillings has become a controversial topic in recent years, as people have begun questioning the health implications of long-term mercury exposure. Mercury can be poisonous in large quantities and may cause anxiety, memory less and headaches in the long-term. However, dental amalgam is still deemed safe in the UK and studies have been unable to find a connection between mercury exposure through fillings and health issues.

Amalgam fillings and pregnancy

Pregnant women are not advised to have amalgam fillings fitted as a precautionary measure. Although research has failed to find a connection between traditional fillings and health problems in babies, experts are still concerned that mercury released from the substance may cross the placenta. As such, Synergy Dental will not provide tradition fillings to anyone who is pregnant or breast-feeding.

Synergy Dental also advice parents to choose advanced glass ionomer or composite fillings over traditional fillings when making a decision on behalf of their children.

By Dr Zuber Bagasi