Amalgam Vs. Composite; Which one is the better of the two?
There are two types of dental fillings that most people know about, the amalgam also known as those big silver fillings, which seem to be not the prettiest looking ones in your mouth. Or the other choice is the composite also known as tooth-colored fillings, which you can’t even tell they are in there. The most common known that has been used for over one hundred and fifty years is the amalgam. The newest craze is the resin base composite filling that is tooth-colored, which first made its appearance in the 1960’s. I have found out by working for a couple of dentists that they will tend to use one more than the other. The big question is: which is the most reliable material to have placed? Both of these two restorative materials have good qualities and bad qualities. But like the old saying goes, “Which one is going to give you the most bang for your buck?” There are many qualities that make these two materials so different like the amalgam is a compound material made up of a mixture of mercury, silver, tin and copper. Composite, first off, does not have any mercury and is not a metal-based filling. Mercury, which makes up about 50 percent of the compound in the amalgam, is necessary to bind the metals together to provide a strong, hard, durable filling. There are many supporting reasons that dentists and patients prefer amalgam fillings as opposed to composite fillings. Dentists often prefer dental amalgam because it is easier to work with than other alternatives. Many dentists consider amalgam stronger than the resin-based composite, and therefore use amalgam for back teeth fillings or when placing larger fillings. Many patients prefer dental amalgam for the same reasons, plus its cost-effectiveness and ability to fill cavities quickly. Amalgam is one of the best filling materials when dentists need to place fillings in areas of the mouth that are difficult to keep dry, such as molars (back teeth) or cavities below the gum line. There are some issues that have been brought up in the past from amalgam causing problems due to the compounds used in the amalgam material. Dr. Arvind Shenoy explains some of the issues that people have with using amalgam “Incidents of true allergy to mercury have been rare (only 41 cases have been reported since 1905), and attempts to link its usage with such diseases as multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's have not been scientifically proven, although there may be some association between amalgam restorations and oral lichen-oid lesions” (Shenoy). Wondering what a lichen-oid lesions, best explained as a canker sore which it not uncommon or contagious. If allergy to mercury has been so rare why is it there are some dentists and patients who are concerned so highly about the amalgam fillings? Dr. Gary Unterbrink gives his opinion on this issue very well “Another controversy is the effect of mercury or other components of amalgam on human health. In my opinion, the available data indicate that amalgam should be avoided whenever possible; at the same time, the possible risks with other direct restorative materials also are inadequately assessed”(Unterbrink). One of the reasons for concern is that the mercury is released into our bodies continuously. So if the amalgam lasts as long as ten plus years that means the mercury is being released for that amount of time until the filling is either replaced with a different material. Dr. George Feuer and Dr. Stephen Injeyan explain the process in which it occurs, “Mercury vapour is continuously released from dental amalgam and is ultimately absorbed into a variety of tissues. Experimental data have demonstrated that the uptake, tissue retention and excretion of mercury from dental amalgam is significant. Evidence has accumulated indicating a relationship between tissue mercury levels and a multitude of clinical manifestations”(Feuer,...
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