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A Family Dentist Answers Why Amalgam Removal Should Be Done
A regular checkup by a family dentist may reveal minor tooth decay. In these situations, a filling is the most common solution to repair the damaged tooth. Amalgam was often used in dental fillings for many years and is made from a mix of several metals, including the following:
However, many dentists suggest that these fillings now be replaced for a variety of reasons, including patient discomfort, safety concerns and aesthetic preferences.
Reasons for amalgam removal
Individuals with amalgam fillings should speak with their family dentist to determine if replacement is the best option for their situation. While the FDA states that amalgam fillings are safe for children and adults over the age of 6, some patients may wish to have the material removed anyway.
Mercury risks or sensitivity
The metal in amalgam fillings releases trace amounts of mercury in the form of a vapor, which is absorbed by the patient's body. While the levels are extremely low and considered safe, many people may find the presence of mercury unsettling. Others may be sensitive to the metal and can experience allergic reactions to amalgam, such as an itchy rash. However, this type of reaction is rare.
Unsightly tooth repair
Amalgam fillings are silver in color and do not blend in with the natural color of teeth. For this reason, the metal may be visible when the patient laughs or talks, even if the repair is located toward the back of the mouth. This is especially true of fillings in the front teeth, so the patient may wish for a more discreet option.
Other options for treating tooth decay
If a patient wishes to have an amalgam filling removed, their family dentist will need to repair the damaged tooth using other substances or methods. There are a handful of options available.
Composite resin fillings
For minor to average tooth decay, a composite resin filling is often an appropriate choice. While this material tends to be more costly than amalgam, it is typically covered by most dental insurance plans. These fillings last around 10 years and are usually unnoticeable, since the material is designed to match the color of the natural tooth.
If the decay or deterioration was excessive, a tooth covering can help restore the look and function of a healthy tooth. Veneers are thin coverings that are placed over the tooth after the top layer of enamel is removed. A crown is a tooth cap that a family dentist places over the original tooth after it is ground down to a small nub. Crowns are the cheaper option, but veneers last longer and tend to be the more natural-looking choice.
While amalgam fillings are considered safe for most individuals, many patients may wish to have them removed for peace of mind and a more appealing smile. It is important to seek the advice of a family dentist to determine what is the best course of action for the patient. If amalgam removal is recommended, there are many other options to help restore a beautiful and healthy smile.
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