What is amalgam?
Amalgam typically refers to a mixture of two or more metals that are combined to form a new material with different properties. Amalgam is commonly used in dentistry as a filling material for teeth.
Dental amalgam is a mixture of liquid mercury and a powdered alloy composed of silver, tin, copper, and other metals. The mixture is packed into a prepared cavity in a tooth where it hardens and forms a durable filling. Dental amalgam has been used for over 150 years and is still used today as a restorative material, although it has been largely replaced by tooth-colored materials such as composite resins.
Amalgams can also refer to alloys used in various other applications, such as in the manufacturing of electrical contacts, mirrors, and thermometers. The specific properties of an amalgam depend on the types and proportions of metals used in the mixture.
What are the health impacts of amalgam?
The health impacts of amalgam are a matter of some debate and controversy. While dental amalgam has been used for many decades and is considered safe by many dental and medical organizations, there are concerns about its potential health effects, particularly with regards to the release of mercury vapor.
Mercury is a toxic substance that can cause neurological and other health problems in high doses. Dental amalgam does release small amounts of mercury vapor over time, but the amount is generally considered to be well below levels that would cause harm. However, some people may be more sensitive to mercury than others, and there is some evidence to suggest that exposure to even low levels of mercury may have adverse effects on health.
As a result, some people choose to have their amalgam fillings removed and replaced with alternative materials, particularly if they have concerns about their health or have been diagnosed with a condition such as mercury allergy or sensitivity.
It's important to note that the risks and benefits of any dental treatment, including the use of dental amalgam, should be discussed with a qualified dental professional. Your dentist or dental hygienist can provide you with information about the different types of filling materials available, as well as the potential risks and benefits of each option, so that you can make an informed decision about your dental care.