Ask a Dentist

March 12, 2021

Q: What are dental amalgam fillings? Are they safe?

Dentist's hand held up with a dental instrument and a patient in the background

At Dental Image Therapy Centres, we regularly perform restorative dental treatments. Restorative treatments are used to repair cavities, also known as caries. Sometimes, depending on which tooth has the cavity  as well as the patient’s preference, we use dental amalgam fillings. These silver-coloured fillings have been used since the early 1800s and have improved immensely since then.

What are amalgam fillings made of?

Amalgam fillings are silver because they are made of an alloy of mercury, silver, copper and tin. Approximately half of this alloy, by weight, is made from elemental mercury. The mercury is a catalyst for a chemical reaction between the other elements that bind them all together. This alloy is then called an amalgam.

Are they safe?

Yes, amalgam fillings are very safe. In Canada, all medical devices and materials are regulated by Health Canada and it does not restrict the use of amalgam fillings for dental restoration. While this type of filling does contain mercury, the alloy it’s part of makes the filling stronger and less likely to wear down. They have been used hundreds of millions of times and have proven extremely safe.  

There are many benefits of getting an amalgam filling. They last a very long time because of their strength, they are easy to place and only take one appointment to complete the treatment, and are inexpensive. 

If you have any dental amalgam fillings, make sure to visit your dentist regularly to have them checked. Even though they’re made from very strong materials, they can still wear down over time. You can sometimes see the wear and tear in the mirror. If you see any signs of damage to the filling, feel any discomfort or find that your filling has loosened, make an appointment to get it looked at as soon as possible to avoid further damage to your tooth. 

At Dental Image Therapy Centres, your treatment plan is made for you and your specific case. We know that many people prefer to have their fillings made of different materials for personal and aesthetic reasons. We also can use other materials including composite, cast gold and porcelain fillings. If you have a cavity that needs to be fixed, book an appointment today at either of our conveniently located Winnipeg dental clinics, at St. Vital Centre or Garden City Shopping Centre.

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