Dental Amalgam: Is it a Health risk?

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An amalgam in dental terms is a silver filling. It is actually not silver but a mixture of silver, mercury, tin and copper. Approximately 50% of this compound is mercury; this is the substance which binds the others together and creates a strong filling.

The Problem With Mercury

Unfortunately, research shows that mercury can be very dangerous for your health. Although it is a naturally occurring element it can have a toxic effect on your nervous system, lings, kidneys and even your eyes.

Your first thought will be to check your local amalgam removal service. But before you rush to your dentist it is important to understand the true effects of mercury:

The Form Of Mercury

Mercury can exist in a variety of different forms; the seriousness of your exposure will depend upon the type of mercury you are consuming. There are 3 main forms of mercury:


  • Elemental Mercury


In its standard form mercury is actually a liquid. It has been used in this form in a variety of items, including fluorescent lamps and thermometers.


  • Inorganic Mercury Salts


Mercury can be dissolved in water which creates a salt, but it is still filled with mercury. If these are swallowed they can cause intestinal distress and kidney damage.


  • Organic Mercury


This is the worst form of mercury, you can actually experience mercury poisoning just by having a few drops land on your skin. The effect will be poor balance and your speech will suffer. IT can kill you in just a few months!

Why Have Amalgam Fillings?

If mercury is such a dangerous substance then you must question why it is included in fillings. The answer lies in toxicity levels and the way this mineral changes when mixed with others.

In effect, because the mercury has been mixed with other minerals to create your filling it has been rendered harmless.

A little mercury will be released under the daily pressure of chewing your food and grinding your teeth. This amount has been shown to be less than you would be exposed to in the normal course of a day through the air, food and even water.


It is also worth noting that dental amalgam has been used for in excess of 150 years and it is considered the safest, most cost effective and durable material to work with.

In addition, it is much easier to work with that other filling materials; it can be easily added to your tooth cavity and shaped to ensure a perfect repair in minutes.

The alternatives

There are alternatives. These include gold or porcelain. However, these materials are much more expensive and difficult to deal with. They will also take longer to make and require at least two visits to your dentists.

The other option is a composite filling can be used to match the appearance of your teeth. This is becoming the most popular solution although it is not as strong as an amalgam. However, it does not carry the associated health risks and is a good reason to have your amalgam fillings replaced.

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