What Is Amalgam Filling (Restoration) Material?

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What is Dental Amalgam Filling Material?

Dental Amalgam is a liquid mercury and metal alloy mixture used to fill cavities caused by tooth decay/ caries. Dental amalgam became the dental restorative material of choice due to its low cost, ease of application, strength, and durability.

Steps Of Placing An Amalgam Filling/Restoration:

  1. Dental Decay/ Caries is removed from the concerned tooth.
  2. The tooth to be filled with Amalgam is isolated.
  3. Dental Amalgam Material is placed into the prepared cavity on concerned tooth.
  4. Amalgam is condensed, burnished and carved to recreate normal shape of the tooth.

Advantages Of Dental Amalgam As A Filling Material:

  1. Durable
  2. Economical
  3. Least technique-sensitive of all restorative materials
  4. Good long-term clinical performance
  5. Less time needed for placement compared to other restorative materials
  6. Direct material (one-appointment placement)
  7. Easy repair
  8. Long-lasting when placed under ideal conditions

Disadvantages Of Dental Amalgam As A Filling Material:

  1. Marginal breakdown
  2. Some destruction of sound tooth structure
  3. Not esthetic
  4. Long-term, corrosion at margins may cause breakdown
  5. Local allergenic potential
  6. Public perception of mercury toxicity.

Indications For Dental Amalgam As A Filling Material:

  1. Dental Amalgam is appropriate for use in individuals of all ages, in stress-bearing situations, small-to moderate-sized cavities in posterior teeth. It can be used more successfully than the other direct restorative materials in situations where severe destruction of tooth structure has occurred. Amalgam also functions well in nonstress-bearing situations, but it may not be the material of choice because of the lack of esthetics and the need to remove more sound tooth structure than with Composite Material.
  2. As foundations for cast metal, metal-ceramic, and ceramic restorations.
  3. When patient compliance is poor or unknown or when a periodic recall schedule has lengthy lapses in care.
  4. For patients in whom moisture control is difficult.
  5. When cost is an important concern for the patient, including large stress-bearing restorations.

Contraindications For Dental Amalgam As A Filling Material:

  1. In visible areas of mouth where esthetics are important
  2. When the patient has a history of allergy to mercury or other amalgam component.
  3. For large restorations, when cost is not a concern.

Amalgam Filling – Photo By Kauzio (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Dental Amalgam Toxicity:

The greatest toxicity concern with Dental Amalgam is the potential for mercury poisoning when used as the dental material in a dental filling. Major health and professional organizations say that amalgam is safe. However, critics argue that it has toxic effects that make it unsafe, both for the patient and perhaps even more so for the dental professional manipulating it during a restoration.  The removal of amalgam fillings is not recommended for reasons other than a true hypersensitivity to Mercury. Removal involves exposure to mercury vapor released during the removal process. With regards to amalgam placement and removal in pregnancy, research has not shown any adverse effects for the mother or fetus.

Amalgam is one of the most commonly used dental restoration materials being used in restoring Tooth Decay/ Caries.

However, concern for appearance, environmental pollution, health, and the availability of improved, reliable, Composite Materials have diminished its popularity. In particular, concerns about the toxicity of mercury have made its use increasingly controversial.

Alternatives Dental Filling/Restoration Materials:

There are a lot of different Dental Filling/Restoration Materials available in the market to be used to restore Dental Caries/Decay. Each Material has its own advantages, disadvantages, indications and contraindications.

Some of the commonly used Dental Filling Materials include:

  1. Composite Resin Material
  2. Glass Ionomer Cement Material
  3. Resin Modified Glass Ionomer Cement Material
  4. Ceramic
  5. Porcelain
  6. Gold

Dental Fillings/Restorations must be placed by Qualified Dentists or Dental Specialists. If you are in doubt about which Dental Filling Materials best suit to your oral condition, always consult your Dentists for further clarification.

After all, prevention is better than cure. Always practise Good Oral Hygiene through daily Tooth Brushing, Flossing and Mouth Rinsing to prevent Tooth Decay/Caries development. If you find this article useful, feel free to share it with your family and friends.

 

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Article written by,

Dr. Wong Kee Cheong (Tommy)
BDS,
Dental Surgeon.

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