What Are Silver Amalgam Fillings?

You may love sweets, but watch out since those tend to lead to cavities, especially if you don’t brush your teeth immediately afterwards. Cavities tend to necessitate a visit to the dentist. Your dentist does more than clean your teeth. He or she works to safeguard your teeth and help to ensure that they last you a lifetime. One of the ways your dentist does that is by filling your cavities with fillings. The go-to filling for dentists used to be silver amalgam. Let’s explore this.  

Silver Amalgam Fillings

The go-to filling that dentists used for decades was silver amalgam, which contained mercury. The main reason was that it was relatively inexpensive. Also, dentists could treat more people faster since they could put the fillings in their teeth in just a few minutes.  

However, that practice was soon questioned since many people began to get sick from these fillings, the reason is that mercury is toxic. So, dentists started looking for alternatives to silver amalgam fillings in more recent years. They are finding some interesting candidates.  

Options For Fillings 

  • Composite resin – it’s a mixture of finely ground glass and plastic. Composite resin is white, so it (theoretically) blends into the surface of the surrounding tooth by mimicking its texture and color. The good news with composite resin is that dentists don’t have to do nearly as much drilling of the cavity and surrounding areas as they would with silver amalgam fillings. So, more of your natural tooth area is preserved. 
    Composite resin fillings also harden and stay in place a few nanoseconds after they’re applied to the surface of the tooth. That makes them easier for dentists to apply. They also bond to the surface of the tooth better, so they last much longer than silver amalgam fillings.  
    Another plus is that it’s easy to repair them. The same is not true with silver amalgam. Perhaps the biggest benefit composite resin offers over silver amalgam fillings is that they are non-toxic. 
  • Glass ionomer – while these fillings aren’t nearly as durable or resilient as composite resin ones, dentists love them because they blend in with the natural tooth area. It’s also easier to fill cavities with glass ionomer fillings than it is with composite resin ones. Glass ionomer fillings may also protect your tooth because they have fluoride. Finally, dentists can fill a cavity faster with a glass ionomer filling faster than they could with a composite resin one. 
    You can think of glass ionomer fillings as (literally) being the ‘new kid on the block.’ Yes, they’re a more recent dental invention. Dental professionals create glass ionomer fillings by mixing acrylic with certain durable types of ground-up glass. 
  • Gold – Gold has been used as material in fillings for centuries – much longer than silver amalgam fillings have been around. Gold fillings are actually an alloy of gold, silver, and copper. They are stronger and safer than silver amalgam fillings. They last for a few more years than other types of fillings. Dentists also find that they can easily fit gold fillings in any area.  
    Gold fillings don’t get destroyed or chip easily. However, one reason why they are falling out of favor with dentists is that they are expensive. They also don’t blend into the natural tooth area easily, so they look more obvious. 
  • Porcelain – these types of fillings are made of oxygen and silicone. These two elements are heated to high temperatures and then mixed together to create a compound called porcelain. They last for years and blend into the natural tooth area easily.  

Final Words 

If you ever need to have your cavities filled, you can have peace of mind that you have many options, besides silver amalgam fillings, for the material. And once you get treatment you can go back to eating your favorite foods in no time, indeed, you may wonder how you ever lived life before you got your cavities filled in! 

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