Dentists commonly use dental amalgam to fill cavities. This material, which many also refer to as silver fillings, has been the subject of many debates and studies because it contains mercury, among many other types of metal. Some of these elements include tin and copper, as well as a little bit of zinc.
It is unusual to find teenagers and young adults who have silver fillings as it was more common years ago. The emergence of tooth-coloured materials somehow gave patients a better alternative, since some say amalgam is not a safe dental option due to its mercury content.
Function of Mercury
Practitioners infuse mercury because it makes the filling material flexible. The compound is soft enough to mix and press to the teeth, but also hardens fast and suits chewing and biting purposes. Studies show, however, that there are no evident facts that say amalgam has bad health effects. In fact, the amount of mercury in amalgam fillings is less than the amount found in air, food and water.
The degree of the effects of mercury is relative to its amount. Excessively low level, which is the case of dental fillings, does not put a patient at risk. But, when exposed to higher levels of mercury, a person may experience fatigue, memory loss, anxiety, headaches and irritability.
People are more at risk of these health hazards if they are allergic to mercury. As an alternative, they can ask practices to use tooth-coloured fillings instead. The dentists from HarleyStreetDentalClinic.co.uk say that replacing amalgam fillings with tooth-coloured restorations is necessary if the teeth are unsightly.
Another alternative can be fillings that contain less mercury. New materials often have indium, which is essential in keeping mercury from releasing into the environment. Some dental amalgams also contain more copper than mercury. But, what dentists usually use nowadays are composite resin and porcelain.
Amalgam is relatively safe, unless cavities start building up beneath the fillings. For those who have silver fillings, it may be unnecessary to change it if there are no serious problems regarding the material.