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Allergic Reaction to Amalgam

written by: Jennifer Gonzalez • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 1/27/2011

There is a lot to think about when taking a trip to the dentist for a filling, but one thing you may not think about is if you will have an allergic reaction to amalgam fillings. This allergic reaction is uncommon but does happen from time to time.

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    Amalgam Dental Fillings

    Amalgam dental fillings are the most frequently used type of fillings in most dental patients, since they have been around longer than the new versions of fillings available today. Amalgam fillings, also known as silver fillings are made up of mercury and metal. Although mercury is known to be highly toxic, The American Dental Association has assured people that it is completely safe for use in the dental office and for use in fillings. Silver fillings are widely used in the practice of filling cavities, but some people, about one to two percent, will experience an allergic reaction to amalgam.

    Amalgam fillings are still in practice today and are one of the more chosen versions of fillings, even over their more natural looking counterpart. Amalgams, although silver and unnatural looking when placed in the tooth are chosen over the natural, tooth colored fillings for a few reasons.

    1. Amalgams are less expensive than other choices of fillings
    2. They are strong and able to withstand every day use
    3. Silver fillings will last much longer than other fillings offered

    Along with the advantages of amalgam fillings come a few disadvantages:

    1. Doesn't match natural tooth color
    2. Pieces of healthy tooth sometimes needs to be removed in order to fit the silver filling
    3. Amalgam's are known to crack
    4. They can discolor teeth by adding a grayish tint
    5. Some have an allergic reaction to amalgam; or more accurately an allergic reaction to the mercury in the amalgam
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    Allergic Reactions

    It is estimated that an allergic reaction takes place once for every million fillings done. Even though the reported percentage of allergic reactions to amalgam is low, there are some that have and will experience a reaction. A persons reaction type can range from mild to severe. Although both types of reactions are extremely rare, a severe reaction is much more serious.

    In a mild reaction, a person may experience the development of a sore inside of the mouth. This sore will be in an area that is in contact with the newly received amalgam filling. This will most likely be an area such as the cheek, tongue, or gums. The sore can range in size and severity. This happens because the person is allergic to the mercury in the filling they have received. A more serious reaction to the filling can cause parts of the mouth to swell on the inside, such as the tongue, cheeks, or even throat. In more serious cases of an allergic reaction or if you feel that the filling is bothersome, you can talk with your dentist about having the amalgam filling removed and replaced with another type of filling.

    If you are in need of a filling, make an appointment for a consult with your dentist before having your tooth filled. Make a list with all of your questions and concerns about the filling you are choosing, and ask questions about the other fillings available as well. This will insure you are being fit with the best filling for your needs.