Amalgam is a mixture of silver, zinc, mercury, and a few other metals. You may be concerned about the mercury, as mercury alone is toxic by itself. However, the concern is not as necessary, as the mercury mixes with the other metals and forms a fairly harmless compound.
Amalgam has often be used to fill in cavities that form in teeth, for about a century and a half to be precise. It is one of the more durable types of fillings. The dentist usually creates it by combining mercury with powdered forms of the other metals.
The metals become a compound, rendering the mercury harmless. This is much in the way of hydrogen. Hydrogen is not healthy for us by itself, but two hydrogen atoms combined with oxygen make water. Noting that, the amalgam can safely rest in our mouths.
Over time, some small amounts of mercury can break of in the form of a gas, but these amounts are usually harmless. You need a larger amount before it becomes toxic. You often ingest and inhale more mercury through food, drink, and air.
Even so, you might need to take some precautions. A few people have an allergy to mercury, so amalgam may agitate that. People who live in places with high amounts of mercury may need another type of filling. Women who are pregnant are advised to avoid amalgam, as the mercury may go through the placenta and get to the baby.
Overall, mercury in amalgam is rendered harmless. There might be a few things to be careful about, but an amalgam is usually a safe option. Of course, other options exist for you to try, ranging from gold to composite resin, if you need a filling.
For more information on what filling would work for you, or if you need a simple dental visit, come see Dr. Ronald Flachs. You can find him at Oak Park Dentistry in Portage, Michigan. Call us at 269-375-0800 to schedule a visit.