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Understanding your dental material


What is dental amalgam?

A mixture of mercury with silver-tin alloy
Other metals added for their property strengths

Direct restorative material

Mostly used on posterior teeth

Classification of Amalgams: 1. Composition

Silver (Ag) - Increases strength and expansion
Mercury (Hg) 43% makeup - Drives the reaction
Tin (Sn) - Workability and strength; decreases expansion Copper (Cu) - Increases strength (decreases gamma 2); reduces corrosion Sometimes: Zinc (Zn) - Decreases oxidation of other metals; less marginal breakdown

Palladium - Decrease corrosion

2. Particle Size
Capsulated liquid mercury added to powder silver-tin alloy
Triturated (mixed) in amalgamator

Types of particles (alloy powder): Lathe-cut - condenses better - can take more compressible force in setting

Spherical - requires less mercuy due to smaller surface area - less surface area to wet
Admix - Mixture of lathe-cut and spherical - condenses better

Amalgam Reaction Mixture

What occurs (Conventional amalgam): Silver-Tin (Ag-Sn) alloy (Gamma phase) dissolves into mercury, releasing silver and tin. Silver reacts first with mercury - Gamma 1 crystal matrix Tin later reacts with mercury - Gamma 2 crystal

Continues until there is no more Hg to react with (takes 24 hrs)

Gamma phase (Ag-Sn) - strongest; least corrosion

Gamma 1 phase (Silver-mercury) - not as strong as Ag-Sn Gamma 2 phase (Tin-mercury) - weakest; corrodes easily NB: High copper:- Addition of copper decreases gamma 2 phase as tin more readily binds to copper over mercury - Eta () phase

(1) Flow and creep deals with an amalgam undergoing deformation when stressed low creep = better marginal integrity of the restoration high copper alloy has less creep than conventional silvertin alloys. (2) Dimensional change can expand or contract Most high copper amalgams undergo net contraction marginal gap which goes away with time

(3) Compression strength Resistance to fracture

Determined by composition of the alloy, amount of residual mercury remaining after condensation and the degree of porosity in the amalgam restoration to name a few.

Advantages: Cheap Easy to use not overly technique sensitive strength Disadvantages:

Mercury - employ good exposure and handling techniques Seal can be broken Somewhat brittle