Dental Amalgam is a commonly used dental filling that has been used for over 150 years. It is a mixture of mercury with at least one other metal. Amalgam has many advantages over other restorative material, such as low cost, strength, durability, and bacteriostatic effects.
Amalgam is used in dentistry for a number of reasons. It is relatively easy to use and manipulate during placement; it remains soft for a short time so it can be packed to fill any irregular volume, and then forms a hard compound. Amalgam can possess greater longevity than other direct restorative materials, such as composite. However, with recent improvements in composite material science and a better understanding of the technique-sensitivity of placement, it should be noted that composites typically last as long as amalgams now. Because of these improvements, as well as the lack of mercury, composites are used almost exclusively in our practice now. We sometimes still use amalgam, but only in very specific circumstances when composites are not the better material. We will give you this option if we feel that you will be better served by amalgam than composite.
The American Dental Association Council on Scientific Affairs has concluded that both amalgam and composite materials are considered safe and effective for tooth restoration.