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Ottawa patients ask, "What is dental amalgam?"

If you've been reading any dental information lately, you may have come across the phrase "dental amalgam" and you may be wondering what it is, what the big deal is, and why so many reports have been written about it.

Dr. France Chevalier is a respected dentist in Ottawa who is committed to the practice of safe and holistic dentistry. This means that she understands that the health of your mouth can directly affect the health of your body and your overall wellness. It is that belief that drives Dr. Chevalier's commitment to only using safe materials and only performing treatments that are necessary.

Here Dr. Chevalier explains dental amalgam, the associated risks, and options for removal.

What is dental amalgam?

Dental amalgams are metal fillings that were commonly used for many years to fill cavities. The material was used because of its strength and longevity. If you open your mouth and see dark or silver fillings, it is likely that they are amalgam, or metal, fillings.

What is the risk of dental amalgam?

In recent years amalgam fillings have received criticism because they are composed of up to 50% mercury. Mercury has been found to have a high level of toxicity which can lead to medical conditions such as anxiety, loss of memory, headache, extreme fatigue, inability to sleep, and irritability. While there are trace amounts of mercury throughout our environment, the mercury amounts are shown to increase when the filling is heated – such as during brushing or eating.

What are my options?

First, consider asking for fillings that are made of composite resin instead of metal. Not only are these fillings completely safe, they are white or tooth colored and nearly impossible to detect once they're placed.

Can I have the metal fillings removed?

Metal fillings can be removed but it requires an important conversation with your dentist. First of all, drilling the filling to remove it creates some risk of exposure to mercury. If your metal filling is beginning to wear or chip or if you're otherwise concerned about the medical risks of the metal fillings, Dr. Chevalier can remove the fillings following a strict protocol that includes use of oxygen, protection of the rest of your mouth from the mercury filling, and mask for the dental team, and proper disposal so that the mercury doesn't end up back in the environment.

For more information about amalgam fillings or having a filling removed, call Dr. France Chevalier's office today.

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