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J Mater Sci Mater Med. 2000 Jan;11(1):1-9.

Influence of thermal treatments on Ag Sn Cu powders in order to reduce mercury contents in dental amalgam.

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Laboratoires Septodont, France.


The mercury content of dental amalgams is a controversial subject with regard to the biological properties of these materials. The object of this study is to optimize the thermal treatments performed on an experimental powder in order to obtain a low mercury ratio (41% by weight) while preserving the desirable clinical qualities of the material. Using atomized powder, two types of thermal treatments are performed: A1, to obtain a partially annealed structure and A2, to obtain a complete homogenization. The kinetics of the amalgamation reaction is mainly evaluated by X-ray diffraction to identify the newly formed phases as a function of setting time. Mechanical properties are evaluated according to the ISO norms at 37 degrees C. Metallographical examination of the amalgams shows a Ag-Hg phase which acts as a matrix incorporating the Cu-Sn and Ag-Sn compounds. The setting kinetics of the A1 amalgams is linear and slightly more rapid than that of the A2 amalgam. The mechanical properties of the amalgams are significantly improved regarding the higher mercury content commercial amalgams. A specific thermal treatment permits us to slow down the diffusion of mercury between the different intermetallic compounds into the powder. The final amalgam composition, thus, most approaches the stoechiometric ratio calculated from a quaternary diagram.


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