Dental Amalgam is a common dental filling that’s been used by dentists for more than 150 years. It’s a mixture that consists of mercury combined with at least one other metal. Amalgam has many advantages over other restorative materials, such as its low cost, strength, durability, and bacteriostatic effects.
Amalgam is relatively easy to use and manipulate during placement. It also remains soft for a short time so it can be packed to fill any irregular volume before forming into a hard compound. Additionally, Amalgam possesses greater longevity than other direct restorative materials, such as composite. On average, most amalgam restorations serve for 10 to 12 years, whereas resin-based composites serve for about half that time (5 to 10 years). However, this gap is closing, thanks to recent improvements in composite material science and an increased understanding of placement technique-sensitivity. On the downside, amalgam typically requires more tooth structure be removed than otherwise necessary, and weakens the tooth compared to more modern materials. In general, you can expect your tooth to fail long before the amalgam filling does.
In some cases, composite (white fillings) serve better than amalgam, particularly when a more conservative preparation is beneficial. An example of this: situations that require removal of more sound tooth structure, such as small occlusal restorations. Composite fillings are also better used in “enamel sites beyond the height of contour.”
Here at Comfort Dental, we believe that amalgam fillings are acceptable restorations, and are certainly preferable to having active cavities. However, we strongly urge you, and all of our our Myrtle Beach dental patients, to consider tooth-colored fillings before deciding which filling is most desirable.
The American Dental Association Council on Scientific Affairs has concluded that both amalgam and composite materials are considered safe and effective for tooth restoration.