The dental amalgam controversy refers to the conflicting views over the use of amalgam as a filling material mainly because it contains elements of mercury. Amalgam fillings are those silver colored fillings that are a popular restorative material used by dentists for drilling and filling. There is a lot of controversy concerning the mercury component of this filling material as patients who have amalgam fillings are exposed to a daily dose of mercury. Historically, filling a cavity was done using a filling that contained silver and mercury. While there are other alternatives now of using such fillings, the practice still exists and it is widely used by many dentists. The basic purpose of a filling is to fill a void or an area created when a dentist drills out the cavity.

There are concerns over the health effects regarding constant mercury exposure as there is a potential for illness, disease and disorders. Amalgam as a dental filling material contains silver, tin and copper but half of the filling material in weight consists of mercury. Mercury vapor is continuously released from dental amalgam and I ultimately absorbed into a variety of tissues. Experimental data demonstrate that the uptake, issue retention and excretion of mercury from dental amalgam are significant. Dentists who advocate the use of amalgam point out that it is made of durable material; it is cheap and easy to use on. On average, resin composite lasts only half a long as dental amalgam and dental porcelain is much more expensive. However, the gap between amalgam and composites may be closing.

In addition to health ethics issues, those who oppose dental amalgam fillings point to the negative externalities of water contamination and environmental damage of mercury. They believe that it is wiser to remove mercury so that it does not build up in the system. Some people also believe that the mercury in the amalgam fillings should be removed as it is the primary source of heavy materials in your body.

The possible side effects of mercury in dental filling are: impairment in the function of the central nervous system, risk of impairment in the immune system, risk of impairment of the kidney functions and the risk of impairment in fetal development.

Overall amalgam use continually rises. Due to its strength, durability and long life relative to the more expensive composite fillings, dental amalgam will still be in use for many more years to come.


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