Dental amalgam fillings are made of various metals, including mercury, copper, silver and tin. Typically, mercury makes up 50 percent of the material by weight. These dental fillings have been used for over a century; however, there are some concerns over the health risks posed by mercury. New technologies provide safer materials that can be used in dental fillings. Patients can choose to have their amalgam fillings removed by a qualified dentist and replaced with a safer option.
Mercury is the only metal that remains liquid at room temperature. It is able to bind other metals that are used for the filling. In the past, mercury was considered to be safe before it was discovered that it could wreak havoc on the body without any visible symptoms. According to WHO, mercury can have severe health effects on the body, including the immune system, eyes, kidneys, lungs, and skin.
Surprisingly, amalgam dental fillings are safe. However, they have an average lifespan of 10-15 years before they can start leaking. At this point, you may need to have the filling removed or replaced. An accredited dentist can safely remove the dental filling and place an alternative. Most patients experience some sensitivity for about two weeks after the removal of an amalgam filling. In rarer cases, there may be pain. Cases of pain are usually caused by problems with the root of the tooth, which may require treatment.
Patients with amalgam fillings should see a dentist at least twice a year for a check-up and advice. If the dentist notices some areas of weakness such as broken edges or cracks in the fillings, they can handle the problem in good time before it becomes a real health risk.