"Silver Fillings" have been utilized in dentistry since the late 1800's. They were so named for both a portion of the material content and the initial appearance when placed into a tooth to repair a cavity or fracture. What the name did not disclose however was the approximate other 50% of the material involved, elemental mercury. It has only been in the last few decades that the use of mercury containing materials has come into question. At this time, the American Dental Association, California Dental Association, and Centers for Disease Control all continue to support the use of the silver-mercury amalgam filling. However a few European countries have banned their use in children and pregnant women and in some countries banned use outright.
In the early 1980's the quality and longevity of composite, (tooth colored), fillings began to approach the long term success of the traditional silver fillings without the use of heavy metals and have gained in popularity since then. In our practice, use of silver-mercury amalgam is rare. One stringent requirement of composite filling placement is the absence of moisture in the form of saliva or blood. This cannot always be achieved in situations where the decay extends below the gum line. Although crowns can be utilized in this situation, if one is attempting to balance longevity and cost, silver-mercury amalgam, essentially unaffected by moisture, may yet be the restoration of choice.
Reasons for amalgam fillings:
What does getting an amalgam filling involve?
Amalgam fillings are usually placed in one appointment. While the tooth is numb, your dentist will remove decay as necessary. The space will then be thoroughly cleansed and carefully prepared before the new filling is placed. If the decay was near the nerve of the tooth, a special medication will be applied for added protection. The silver filling will then be precisely placed, shaped, and polished, restoring your tooth to its original shape and function.
It is normal to experience sensitivity to hot and cold when amalgam fillings are first placed, however this will subside shortly after your tooth acclimates to the new filling.
You will be given post-care instructions at the completion of your treatment. Good oral hygiene practices, eating habits, and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your new fillings.