Amalgam and Composite Dental FillingsDental Amalgam
Dental amalgam is a filling material that has been used by dentists for over 150 years. A mixture of metals that typically includes silver, copper, and tin, dental amalgam fillings (often referred to as silver fillings or metal filings) also contain mercury, which has raised safety concerns among some patients.
In response to those concerns, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), American Dental Association (ADA), and other organizations have conducted numerous studies over several decades and have repeatedly found that the small amount of mercury released during placement and removal of amalgam fillings does not cause adverse health effects.
Amalgam fillings remain a safe, cost-effective, and durable choice when it comes to the restoration of decayed teeth.
Why is amalgam still used to fill teeth when composite materials are available?
While composite (or tooth colored) fillings are more durable than ever thanks to advancements in technology, there are still many cases where amalgam fillings perform better (and longer). This is often the case with teeth that are naturally subjected to extensive chewing force, such as molars. In addition to the benefits of longevity, amalgam fillings are also more affordable than composites.
Composite fillings are typically made of a resin and glass mixture, tinted to the color of your tooth, and commonly referred to as white or tooth-colored fillings. They serve an important purpose for teeth that are visible when smiling, providing an aesthetic benefit not afforded by silver fillings. While resin composite fillings undoubtedly look better than amalgam ones, they are generally considered to be less durable, and therefore may not be ideal for teeth that are subject to extreme chewing and biting forces. However, it is worth noting that composite materials continue to benefit from technological advancements, contributing to enhanced durability. The ADA supports composite materials in small or mid-size fillings on teeth that are exposed to moderate pressure from chewing and acknowledges that they are a good choice for a more natural-looking filling.
If you have questions or concerns about fillings, please do not hesitate to call our office. It is important to us that you fully understand all available options when it comes to your oral health.