Used for well over a century, dental amalgam is the most thoroughly researched and tested restorative material among all those in use. It is durable, easy to use and highly resistant to wear. 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.
Because amalgam fillings can withstand very high chewing loads, they are particularly useful for restoring molars in the back of the mouth where chewing load is greatest.
Amalgam fillings, like other filling materials, are considered biocompatible. They are well tolerated by patients with only rare occurrences of allergic response.
Disadvantages of amalgam include possible short-term sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures after the filling is placed. The 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, visible when the patients laughs or speaks.