What are amalgam fillings?
Amalgam fillings are a widely used method in dentistry to treat tooth decay. This type of dental filling is made of an alloy containing mercury and other metals such as silver, tin and copper. In many dental practices, amalgam is valued for its long durability and ease of use in drilling out cavities and filling teeth.
However, there are growing concerns about the health effects of amalgam fillings. In particular, mercury exposure is the focus of discussion. Mercury is a heavy metal that can be released in small amounts from amalgam fillings. This release can take the form of mercury vapours or amalgam particles, which then enter the oral cavity.
The concerns are particularly relevant for certain populations, such as breastfeeding mothers. Mercury can pass into breast milk, posing a risk to the infant. In addition, people with pre-existing amalgam exposure or sensitive gums may be particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of amalgam.
Drilling out an old amalgam filling can also be problematic, as it can release amalgam particles and mercury vapours. It is therefore important that dental practices take special safety measures to minimise exposure to mercury.
Because of these concerns, more and more people are looking for alternatives to amalgam fillings. Plastic fillings, also known as composite fillings, are one such option. They do not contain heavy metals and are more aesthetically pleasing as they can mimic the natural tooth colour.