Dental amalgam is a mixture of metals, consisting of liquid elemental mercury and a powdered alloy composed of silver, tin, and copper. Dental amalgam fillings are often referred to as "silver fillings" because of their silver-like appearance, although the use of this term in not recommended because the term does not correctly explain the materials in amalgam. When placing dental amalgam, the dentist first drills the tooth to remove the decay and then shapes the tooth cavity for placement of the amalgam filling. Next, under appropriate safety conditions, the dentist mixes the encapsulated powdered alloy with the liquid mercury to form an amalgam putty. This softened amalgam putty is placed and shaped in the prepared cavity, where it rapidly hardens into a solid filling. Deciding what filling material to use to treat dental decay is a choice that should be made by you and your dentist. As you consider your options, you should keep in mind the following information about dental amalgam fillings:. Approximately half of a dental amalgam filling is liquid mercury and the other half is a powdered alloy of silver, tin, and copper. Mercury is used to bind the alloy particles together into a strong, durable, and solid filling.
Got a cavity that needs filling? Your dentist might use a dental amalgam filling to seal it up and stop the decay in its tracks. Dental amalgam was once one of the most common materials used to fill cavities. Since many dentists now use tooth-colored materials to fill cavities and restore teeth, amalgam fillings are less common than in the past. However, amalgam fillings are more versatile than the newer materials because they can be used for other dental situations and hold up better over time, especially in teeth that undergo wear and tear from pressure and chewing. As of , the FDA says that amalgam fillings are safe for adults and children six years old and older.
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Dental amalgam is made from a combination of metals that include mercury, silver, tin, and copper. Because of their durability, these silver-colored fillings are often the best choice for large cavities or those that occur in the back teeth where a lot of force is needed to chew. Amalgam hardens quickly so it is useful in areas that are difficult to keep dry during placement, such as below the gum line. Because it takes less time to place than tooth-colored fillings, amalgam is also an effective material for children and special needs people who may have a difficult time staying still during treatment.