What is amalgam?

Amalgam is an alloy of mercury and various other metals. Dental amalgam is composed of 50% mercury and 50% metals (silver, tin, copper, zinc). Mercury is packed a capsule in the form of a liquid and metal is in the form of a powder. The capsule is shaken in a separate mixer which mixes powder and liquid  together, therefore causing an amalgam to harden within couple of minutes. At the beginning is sufficiently soft, so it can be inserted into the tooth to create a nice filling. In a matter of minutes it solidify so it can transmit even large occlusal forces.

How long can black dental filling last?

On average amalgam fillings lasts 12 years, but it can lasts even longer. There are examples of amalgam fillings that lasted unbelievable even 50 years.

Why do we have to change black fillings with a new one?

The most common reasons for changing amalgam fillings are chipped fillings, caries underneath the filling or fractured tooth. White fillings are less durable than amalgam and need to be replaced more often (within 5-10 years). Amalgam remains in the mouth for longer period than white fillings due to bacteriostatic effects of mercury. This is the reason that bacteria around that kind of filling are reluctant to live. The filling last longer if it is well done and properly maintained at home.

Are black fillings harmful?

Increasingly raising questions due to amalgam fillings containing mercury are, if they are harmful to general health. Some link amalgam fillings with Alzheimer’s disease, headaches, multiple sclerosis, renal and neurological disorders, allergies, etc. Some patients replace all amalgam fillings with white ones for prevention against chronic diseases. There are a number of stories about how people have become ill due to amalgam fillings and how they’ve become cured after their removal. These stories raise unnecessary fear. All who are concerned about having dental amalgam in their mouth should be calmed, because for now, no scientific data prove that it causes harmful effects on body.

Can you be allergic to black fillings?

Some people may develop an allergy to amalgam filling, which can be seen on oral soft tissues near the filling. Allergies to mercury are very rare and even rarer on the other components of dental amalgam. Acute allergic reactions to amalgam fillings are very rare. In such case the soft tissues that are in contact with black filling can become irritated. It usually happens on the tongue or cheeks. It appears in about one day after the black filling is made. Chronic allergic reactions to amalgam fillings are somewhat more frequent. The soft tissue in this case can thicken in the areas which are in contact with black filling. In such cases, it is good to visit a dentist who can replace amalgam with another material.

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