Unless you’ve suffered from a dental cavity, you will never quite appreciate the importance of dental amalgams. Commonly referred as silver fillings, these amalgams have been in use for more than 150 years and have remained popular because they are effective. The amalgams are less costly and have an easy installation process. They stand the test of time extremely well and it is easy to understand why people have trusted them all along. The amalgam is essentially a mixture of certain metals mixed in a certain proportion such that the resulting mixture is hard enough to act as a filling for teeth. The amalgam needs to be strong enough to withstand the pressure and wear resulting from chewing and grinding of food.
Safety of amalgam questioned.
Although they have been around for over a century, amalgams recently came under the spotlight and their safety was questioned. The safety of the amalgam was questioned because people came to realize that some mercury is used to bind the components that form the metallic alloy. We all know that mercury is very dangerous and if ingested it can lead to death. When people came to the realization that dental fillings actually have some traces of mercury, there obviously were concerns raised and the American Dentist Association had to give a statement on the same.
Threat of mercury
As earlier said, mercury is used to harden the amalgam and make it pliable. I hardens quickly and helps the amalgam withstand pressure arising from biting, chewing and grinding of food. Mercury can however be very dangerous especially when ingested in large amounts. Mercury has been found to cause anxiety, irritability, severe migraine, memory losses and even death when the levels are too high. This is why people were concerned about the use mercury in amalgams because they were not sure about the exact amount of mercury used in making the amalgams.
The air of uncertainty over the safety of amalgams was actually amplified even more in 2009 when human rights activists from Arizona wrote to the Food and Drug Administration claiming that a patient had died from accidentally ingesting a piece of amalgam that was meant to be used as a filling. This created some fear all across the country and people rushed to get their fillings removed. It took the post mortem results to confirm that the death was not actually related to the swallowing of the amalgam and was caused by a heart related problem. Either way, there were increased concerns about the safety of the amalgams as a means of filling teeth and the ADA had to address the issue because thousands of patients were scared of getting the amalgams and were putting their oral health at risk.
Studies have been conducted and numerous results have been obtained from the studies. All of these studies were conducted to try and find any possible negative impacts that the amalgams had on the health of those who had them. Over 1 million people were interviewed and experiments conducted in environments to actually determine the effects of the mercury contained in the amalgams.
All these studies pointed towards one thing- amalgam fillings are safe for use. They can be used for filling cavities in children with 10 years and above and in any adult. The reason why amalgams are believed to be more than safe for use in humans is because the exact amount of mercury used to make the amalgams is very little. So little that it cannot have any side effects.
A few cases of people reacting allergically to the mercury have been reported but they are very few. There are actually less than 100 cases of people who reacted allergically with mercury. Even those who experienced these reactions confess that they were just mild reactions that went away after just a few days or even hours. If you show any reactions to the mercury, there are alternatives that are used but they are not as effective as the mercury bonded amalgams.
Although the reports on the safety of the amalgams were not conclusive, they were enough to assure people of the safety of the amalgams for the moment. Although there still is a petition in court, the latest word is that the amalgams are safe and can be used on anyone. They are very efficient after all and have helped millions lead a quality life by sealing the cavities that would otherwise wreak havoc in their lives.
Here at Katy Dentist Care are keeping close tabs on the proceedings on the safety of the amalgams but as it stands now, we deem them to be safe. We know that then proportions in which we mix the mercury when making the amalgams are too little to cause any worries. You can therefore trust to offer quality fillings as ever. If you have any safety concerns, talk to one of our dentists and they will gladly take you through the entire process and assure you of the safety of the procedure.