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 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.
There are circumstances in which composite (white fillings) are a better alternative to amalgam fillings. For example, 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.”
The American Dental Association Council on Scientific Affairs has concluded that both amalgam and composite materials are considered safe and effective for tooth restoration.