An amalgam is an alloy of mercury with another metal. Amalgams are used in dentistry for their strength, durability and ease of use. Dental amalgams are a type of dental filling used to fill cavities. Amalgams are made up of mercury, silver, tin, and other metals. Mercury makes up about 50 percent of the weight in most dental amalgams. The other metals help to make the amalgam harder and more wear-resistant.
- Dental amalgams have been used for more than 150 years and are one of the most widely used dental materials. More than 100 million people worldwide have amalgam fillings.
- Amalgams are strong and durable, and they can withstand the forces of chewing. They are also easy to use, because they can be molded into any shape.
- Amalgams are less likely to cause tooth decay than other materials, such as stainless steel. This is because the mercury in amalgams helps to kill bacteria.
However, amalgams do have some drawbacks.
- They may corrode over time, and they can release small amounts of mercury into the mouth. Mercury is a toxic metal and can cause health problems if it is released in high levels.
For these reasons, many people are choosing to have their amalgam fillings replaced with other materials, such as composite resin. Composite resin is a tooth-colored material that is less likely to corrode than amalgams. It is also made of natural materials, so it is less likely to release mercury into the mouth.