What is Amalgam?
Amalgam fillings are the older style metal fillings. Amalgam is the name given to compounds where mercury is mixed with another metal. In dentistry, this commonly used filling material is a combination of mercury with silver and tin, together with small amounts of zinc and copper. Of this mixture approximately 50 percent is mercury.
Problems with Amalgam
Cosmetics – The cosmetics of amalgam are a problem. It has a grey/black appearance and in addition stains tooth structure.
Cracking teeth – The physical attribute of expansion as amalgam solidifies, as well as the necessary tooth preparation leads to the danger of the cracking and fracturing of your teeth after an amalgam filling is placed. After the initial expansion, amalgam corrodes continuing the expansion and further endangering your teeth to cracking and staining. A large proportion of our emergency appointments are dealing with teeth that have fractured or cracked due to the presence of large amalgam fillings.
Health concerns – Many people have concerns about the mercury content of amalgam fillings and the potential health harm this may cause systemically. Mercury vapour is released in large amounts both when amalgams are placed and removed. There is also some evidence of vapour release from amalgam fillings while in mouth.
Alternatives to Amalgam
At Avenue Dental, we use tooth coloured composite resin fillings instead of amalgam. These fillings bind to tooth structure and so the cavity preparations required to place them can be much more conservative than with amalgam placement.
If you currently have amalgam fillings, these will be examined for evidence of cracking or leaking. Your current amalgam fillings may require replacement with tooth coloured composite fillings or your teeth may now have underlying cracks and weaknesses which may be better reinforced with a crown.
Avenue Dental follows the holistic dentistry approach for amalgam removal prescribed by the Australian Society of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (ASOMAT) for our patients. This holistic dentistry protocol involves isolating specific teeth with a ‘rubber dam’ and where appropriate the administration of oxygen through a nasal mask. This provides an independent air supply which largely prevents inhalation of the mercury vapour inevitably generated during amalgam removal. To reduce mercury vapour generation further, we use tungsten carbide burs to ‘chop’ out the amalgam, rather than diamond burs which create more mercury vapour as they ‘grind’ the old filling away.
If you would like this protocol used for your amalgam removal please ask your dentist and we will be happy to provide this.