Dental amalgam is a compound of mercury and other metals and is often called a silver filling because of its appearance. Amalgam is the most thoroughly researched and tested restorative material among all those in use. It is durable, easy to use, highly resistant to wear and relatively inexpensive in comparison to other materials. For those reasons, it remains a valued treatment option for dentists and their patients.
While questions have arisen about the safety of dental amalgam relating to its mercury content, the major U.S. and international scientific and health bodies, including the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization, among others, have been satisfied that dental amalgam is a safe, reliable and effective restorative material.
This silver colored filling is not as esthetically pleasing as one that is tooth-colored, especially when the restored tooth is near the front of the mouth. It also does not bond well to tooth structure. For these reasons dental amalgam comprises only a small percentage of all of the fillings placed in our practice.
Composite (Plastic) Fillings
Composite fillings are a mixture or acrylic resin and finely ground glasslike particles that produce a tooth-colored restoration. Composite fillings provide good durability and resistance to fracture in small-to-mid size restorations that need to withstand moderate chewing pressure. Less tooth structure is removed when Dr. Gall prepares the tooth, and this may result in a smaller filling than that of an amalgam. Composites can also be adhesively held in a cavity, and have been referred to as “bonding.”