Silver amalgam is a mixture of mercury, silver, tin and copper and used for dental applications. Amalgams are generally crystalline in structure with the exception of those with high mercury content which are liquid. Some of the important characteristics of an amalgam are dimensional change, compression strength, flow and creep. The dimensional change characteristics deal with an amalgams ability to expand and contract depending on its use. The compression strength characteristic is the ability of amalgams to resist fracture which is an important prerequisite for any restorative materials. The strength of silver amalgam depends on the composition of the alloy.
Silver amalgams alloys are also known as dental amalgams and are used for dental fillings. Silver amalgams are popular dental restorative material because of their low cost, strength, durability and ease of application. They are long lasting, have a better performance than other fillings, applicable for broad range of clinical performance and are of better quality. However, its popularity is diminishing today because of concerns of mercury toxicity, allergic potential and inferior aesthetics quality. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recommended labeling of dental amalgam products, which includes a warning against using the product in patients who have an allergy to mercury. In addition, it has a warning that dental professionals follow a proper protocol while handling dental amalgams and a statement mentioning the risks and benefits of dental amalgam so that patients and dentist can make informed decisions.
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The continued use of silver amalgam in dental applications will be a major driving factor for silver amalgam industry. The FDI World Dental Federation has reaffirmed the safety of use of silver amalgams in dentistry and hence it is used by dentists all around the world. Majority of dental restorations depend on silver amalgams and hence it has a significant market. However, development of viable substitutes, growth of dental composites market and lack of awareness could hamper the growth of this market.
The market for silver amalgam is worldwide as it is recommended by FDI World Dental Federation for use in its dental applications. The use of silver amalgams is quite popular in Asia Pacific, especially the emerging markets such as China and India due to its low cost and wide availability. The American Dental Association has also approved the use of silver amalgam for dental restorative procedures and hence it is used by majority of dentists in the U.S. However, the use of silver amalgam is declining in Europe with Sweden, Norway, Germany, Denmark, Austria and Finland reducing the use of silver amalgam for dental applications.
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Some of the key players in this market are DPM limited, Sirona, Nobel Biocare, Straumann, Astra Tech, Megagen, Osstem Implant Co. Ltd, Avinent Implant Systems, Zimmer Holdings, Inc, MIS Implants Technologies Ltd, Intra-Lock International and CAMLOG Implant Systems among others. Straumann and Nobel Biocare are leading players in this market with significant global market share. Straumann, headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, has collaborated with multiple research institutes, universities and clinics to develop a broad range of dental implant products. The company has presence in major markets of Asia Pacific, South America, Europe and North America. Nobel Biocare, headquartered in Kloten, Switzerland has manufacturing plants for dental implants in Sweden, U.S. and Israel. It offers innovative dental implants and dental prosthetics to its clients and is listed at the SIX Swiss Exchange.