Dental Amalgam: SAQs for Viva Voce

SAQ 1. A patient arrives at your office and expresses concern about mercury from dental amalgam causing her harm. What will you tell this patient to reassure her about the safety of amalgam? 


You will explain three facts of dental amalgam fillings:

(1) The mercury present in amalgam is not free. It is always tied up chemically in the dental amalgam matrix. It is never released into the body. The majority of bound mercury never leaves the dental amalgam mass.

(2) Very small amounts (1 to 2 micro g/day) are released as a vapor from the dental amalgam, but no evidence suggests that it poses any health risk. We are exposed more to mercury through the air, water, and food (particularly few seafoods) than that mercury which is released from dental amalgam fillings.

(3) Dental amalgam is being used as a restorative material for more than 100 years with no proof of adverse health effects. 

SAQ 2. What special precautions should be taken to limit the exposure of the dental team and the patient to mercury during the removal of an amalgam? 


Use of high volume suction and water coolant with the high-speed handpiece have to be always used. Both of these steps will ensure the reduction in the amount of mercury vapour and the amount of heat generated during cutting procedure. High volume suction will suck all the mercury vapor as well as water droplets containing mercury particles.


For more SAQs, please see HERE.