What are Amalgam Fillings and when are they used?
Amalgam fillings or silver amalgam fillings are essentially a mixture of different metal such as silver, copper, tin and zinc all held together by mercury.
Due to their metallic nature they are the strongest of the dental filling materials. For this reason they are favoured when placing fillings on back teeth where the chewing process generates high loads and forces.
The advantages of amalgam fillings are that they are strong, durable, easy to use, resilient to wear, cost effective and have proved themselves over the past 150 years to be reliable.
Are there any disadvantages?
Yes, they are grey to black in colour and for this reason they should not be placed on visible teeth. Also, as it is necessary to place features to retain the filling in the tooth more tooth tissue needs to be removed.
Are they safe?
Yes. This is the view of the New Zealand Dental Association, Australian Dental Association, American Dental Association, British Dental Association, World Dental Association, and World Health Organisation. Many studies have been carried out and no safety issues have been shown in controlled studies. In rare cases people have had an allergy to one of the metallic components within the filling.
During pregnancy as a precaution it is recommended not to place amalgam fillings
If you would like further information please refer to the NZDA web site at the address below.