FAQs – Removing an Amalgam Dental Filling

dental filling Sandy, UT

An amalgam dental filling is made from a combination of durable metals and is used to treat cavities in people ages 6 and up. Controversy surrounds the material and some patients may wish to have it removed and replaced with an alternative. Understanding this substance and the risks and benefits of removal can help individuals make an informed decision concerning their oral health.

Understanding amalgam fillings

Amalgam is a traditional material that has been used in dentistry for decades. It is especially common in children's fillings because of its lasting nature.

What are amalgam fillings made of?

Amalgam is a combination of silver, copper and tin mixed with mercury. The resulting substance is sturdy, pliable and easy to manipulate quickly. While high levels of mercury can be harmful, an amalgam dental filling contains minimal amounts and is considered safe by the FDA.

How are amalgam fillings removed?

If an individual wishes to replace this type of filling, a dentist should go through significant precautions to ensure patient safety. The heat and disruption to the metal can release mercury during the procedure. However, attention to detail can protect all involved from harmful results.

Placing a rubber dam over the mouth exposes only the affected tooth, preventing debris from falling into the mouth. Next, drilling breaks the filling into pieces during a process known as chunking. Strong suction and steady air or water flow can help keep the metal cooler, resulting in lower mercury exposure. Once the dental filling has been removed, an alternate material will be placed to repair the exposed cavity.

Alternatives to amalgam

Whether a patient is replacing an existing filling or seeking treatment for a new cavity, there are many options to choose from. A dental professional can help guide patients to the appropriate choice based on needs and overall dental health.

What other types of fillings are available to patients?

There are numerous materials that can be used to safely and effectively treat tooth decay in dental patients:

  • Gold
  • Composite resin
  • Ceramic or porcelain
  • Glass ionomer

Some patients may prefer the look of gold fillings and can enjoy the durability of a metal composition without the risk of mercury exposure. Resin and ceramic fillings look the most natural by matching the general tooth color and are still relatively durable. Glass ionomer is a combination of dental cement and glass powder and is typically reserved for cavities that must be filled below the gum line.

Why might a patient request a different type of filling material?

Patients who prefer a more natural look may wish to have an amalgam dental filling removed. Others may have issues with metal sensitivity and may be allergic to some of the materials in amalgam. A dental professional can help determine if a patient is a good candidate for the procedure while offering other options to treat the affected tooth.

Conclusion

While an amalgam dental filling is considered safe, many patients may wish to have it removed for aesthetic purposes. Alternative materials can be used in its place, including resin or porcelain. A dental professional can help determine a proper treatment plan for patients seeking amalgam removal.

Request an appointment here: https://www.taylordentalsmiles.com or call Taylor Dental Care at (801) 565-9411 for an appointment in our Sandy office.

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