AMALGA-WHAT!!!?!? Silver Fillings in a Nutshell.


Silver fillings, also known as “amalgams” (pronunciation: UH-MAHL-GUMS), are very, very common.  It’s understandable…that used to be the way to fix teeth.  But, then again, we “used” to write letters to people instead of sending e-mails, we also “used” to wear lots of polyester…too much, in fact…and, we also “used” to…well, you catch the drift…

So many advancements have been made in dentistry throughout the years, which is good news, because amalgams aren’t all they’re cracked up to be (okay, pun somewhat intended); the following are 5 things everyone should know about amalgams:

1. Amalgams crack teeth.  Think of a road.  Now, think of what happens to it when it expands and contracts with the constantly-changing (and often extreme) temperatures it’s exposed to…what happens?  Yup, it buckles and cracks.  Same thing happens to teeth with silver fillings.  Over time, expansion and contraction from hot and cold foods and beverages can do the exact same thing to your teeth.  Yikes.
2. Amalgams crack teeth.  No, the repetition was not an oversight.  Just trying to make a point here.  Now, think of an axe chopping wood.  The repeated force caused by the metal axe eventually splits the log, and when it splits, it’s split for sure.  Compare the axe to a silver filling.  There it sits in the middle of your tooth—when you chew and your teeth come together, there’s a lot of pressure and force at work, and the silver filling takes the brunt of that pressure…which can lead to eventual cracking of the tooth, similar to a log being split.  Yikes again.
3. Amalgams contain mercury.  About 50%, in fact, and mercury is actually more toxic than lead, cadmium, or arsenic.  There is potential for mercury to leak from these fillings and enter your organs.
4. Amalgams just don’t cut it in terms of looks.  Tooth-colored composite fillings match the tooth’s exact shade, making everything look so much more natural.
5. There is hope.  Progressive dental offices only do tooth-colored composite fillings.  Composite restorations don’t just look great-- since they are bonded in, they offer so much more in terms of strength for the tooth.  Composite restorations can be done both for patients with new cavities/areas of decay, as well as those wanting to replace their existing silver amalgam fillings.

Article by
Columbia Dentist