fillings / restorations
Dental Amalgam is a commonly used dental filling that has been used successfully for many decades. It is a mixture of mercury with at least one other metal. Amalgam has many advantages over other restorative materials, 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 possesses great longevity lasting on average a minimum of 10 to 12 years, depending on various factors.
There are circumstances in which composite (white fillings) serves better than amalgam; when amalgam is not indicated, or when a more conservative preparation would be beneficial, composite is the recommended restorative material. These situations would include small occlusal restorations, in which amalgam would require the removal of a more sound tooth structure, as well as in “enamel sites beyond the height of contour.”
Composite fillings may be placed on front or back teeth. They are more natural looking than amalgam restorations. Composites may take longer to place because the tooth has to stay clean and dry to form a strong bond. They are used more frequently than amalgams because of their long term strength characteristics combined with their cosmetic advantages.
The American Dental Association Council on Scientific Affairs has concluded that both amalgam and composite materials are considered safe and effective for tooth restoration.