Answers To Three Common Questions About Dental Amalgam

Posted on: 9 May 2017

Dental amalgam is the substance used to fill the large majority of dental voids caused by cavities and root canals. Yet despite its widespread use, not that many people understand what exactly dental amalgam is. If you would like to improve your knowledge of common dental techniques and substances, read on. This article will provide answers to three frequently asked questions about dental amalgam.

What is amalgam made of?

Hardened amalgam tends to appear shiny and metallic, for which reason many people erroneously refer to it as silver. Yet while silver does form a small part of the makeup of dental amalgam, it is hardly the only ingredient. Roughly half of the weight of amalgam is comprised of mercury. The other half consists of a proprietary blend of powdered metals, including silver, tin, and copper. The mercury acts to bind together these metals into a single homogeneous mixture.

How is amalgam put in place?

Before it comes to placing the amalgam, the cavity or decayed area must be thoroughly excavated, and all of the damaged portions carefully removed. At this point, your dentist may choose to subtly alter the dimensions of the excavated area, in order to allow the amalgam to be more easily worked into place.

Once the area has been thoroughly prepared, the amalgam must be mixed up. You see, amalgam must be prepared on a case by case basis. The liquid mercury is completely stirred into the mixture of powdered metals. Once the amalgam has been created in this manner, it will soon begin to harden, meaning it must be worked into place quickly.

Amalgam placement is carried out by means of a tool commonly referred to as the amalgam carrier. With a portion of amalgam in place, it will then be packed tightly into the void space using so-called condensers. Then, lastly, the outer portion of amalgam will be smoothed and sculpted into the desired shape.

Is amalgam safe?

It is natural to have certain worries about dental amalgam, especially after learning that it is largely constituted of mercury, a seriously poisonous substance. The good news is that the danger of mercury is greatly reduced when dealing with amalgam. This is due to chemical changes that take place when the mercury is mixed with the other metals. Studies conducted by the Food and Drug Administration have conclusively proved that the amounts of mercury released by hardened dental amalgam pose no specific threat to dental patients.