It is simple to understand why, whenever your dentist detects tooth decay, he must remove that decay as soon as possible and clean the tooth. Weakened, decayed tooth structure is not only uncomfortable, but it places one’s entire oral health, and indeed their general health, at risk.
As much as the rapid removal of tooth decay must occur, so too must the rapid restoration of the tooth. Even after decayed material has been removed and the tooth has been thoroughly cleaned, it is not whole and is therefore not able to perform as is needed. Furthermore, open spaces in teeth just invite more bacteria and leftover food particles to build up and create new problems. One therefore fills in these open spaces with dental fillings.
Different types of dental fillings are recommended for certain, specific situations, but amalgam fillings are often considered one of your top choices in a wide variety of cases.
About Amalgam Fillings
Along with composite fillings, amalgam fillings are one of the more common types of dental fillings. Amalgam fillings are made from mercury and other metals like copper, silver or tin. Liquid mercury is actually mixed with powdered metals, and is a useful component as it allows the filling to be malleable so that it can be pushed into the proper shape.
Compared to other types of dental fillings, amalgam fillings are fairly inexpensive. These fillings are also extremely strong, which makes them ideal for use on back chewing teeth, where they need to withstand intense biting forces. However, amalgam fillings are not always viewed favorably by patients for whom they are recommended. The aesthetic aspect of receiving an amalgam filling are often a concern, because the truth is that amalgam fillings are silver in color and therefore very visible in the mouth, which is not particularly aesthetically pleasing. Sometimes amalgam fillings can also cause allergies in the patient–either to the small amount of mercury within them or to the other metals within them. Due to the mercury content and the fact that this can pass through the placenta, it is not recommended that women receive amalgam fillings while pregnant.
How Amalgam Fillings are Placed
In order to place an amalgam filling, your dentist will:
- Thoroughly examine your mouth,
- Take x-rays of your teeth to determine the exact location and depth of the decay or damage in order to confirm whether amalgam fillings would be appropriate and workable,
- Discuss with you the situation and help you to make an informed decision about the use of amalgam fillings,
- Give you an injection of local anesthetic where appropriate in order to ensure a more comfortable procedure,
- Remove decay and dead tooth material,
- Clean the area thoroughly in preparation of receiving a filling,
- Place the amalgam filling in the tooth,
- Shape the amalgam filling properly and quickly so that it will contribute to proper tooth structure, function and comfort,
- Ensure the filling is smooth.
You will need to avoid chewing on the tooth that has received an amalgam filling for twenty-four hours after the filling has been placed.
Choosing Amalgam Fillings
While there has been some controversy about the safety of amalgam fillings, they have been used with great success for over a hundred years, and health agencies have reported that the mercury content in these fillings is truly too minimal to be harmful. On the other hand, dentists who work with amalgam fillings on a regular basis do need to take precautions and wear protective gear while working with this material.
For more information about amalgam fillings and to learn whether they would be a good option for you, contact Today’s Dental now.