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- Dental (Oral) Health Quiz
- Find a local Doctor in your town
- What steps are involved in filling a tooth?
- What types of filling materials are available?
- Does dental insurance cover the cost of composites?
- What are indirect fillings?
- What's a temporary filling and why would I need one?
- Are amalgam-type fillings safe?
- How should I care for my teeth with fillings?
Quick GuideCosmetic Dentistry Before and After Photos
What's a Temporary Filling and Why Would I Need One?
Temporary fillings are used under the following circumstances:
- For fillings that require more than one appointment - for example, before placement of gold fillings and for certain filling procedures (called indirect fillings) that use composite materials
- Following a root canal
- To allow a tooth's nerve to "settle down" if the pulp became irritated
- If emergency dental treatment is needed (such as to address a toothache)
Temporary fillings are just that; they are not meant to last. They usually fall out, fracture, or wear out within 1 month. Be sure to contact your dentist to have your temporary filling replaced with a permanent one. If you don't, your tooth could become infected or you could have other complications.
Are Amalgam-Type Fillings Safe?
Over the past several years, concerns have been raised about silver-colored fillings, otherwise called amalgams. Because amalgams contain the toxic substance mercury, some people think that amalgams are responsible for causing a number of diseases, including autism, Alzheimer's disease, and multiple sclerosis.
The American Dental Association (ADA), the FDA, and numerous public health agencies say amalgams are safe, and that any link between mercury-based fillings and disease is unfounded. The causes of autism, Alzheimer's disease, and multiple sclerosis remain unknown. Additionally, there is no solid, scientific evidence to back up the claim that if a person has amalgam fillings removed, he or she will be cured of these or any other diseases.
As recently as March of 2002, the FDA reconfirmed the safety of amalgams. Although amalgams do contain mercury, when they are mixed with other metals, such as silver, copper, tin, and zinc, they form a stable alloy that dentists have used for more than 100 years to fill and preserve hundreds of millions of decayed teeth. The National Institutes of Health has several large-scale studies currently under way to ultimately answer many of the questions raised about silver-colored amalgams. Results of these studies are expected to be released in 2006.
In addition, there has been concern over the release of a small amount of mercury vapor from these fillings, but according to the ADA, there is no scientific evidence that this small amount results in adverse health effects.