Amalgam is a commonly used dental material to treat and fill cavities. This has much to do with its strength and durability; it is also the most inexpensive type of tooth filling compared to other options such as gold, composite or porcelain. Dental amalgam is made of an equal amount of elemental liquid mercury and an alloy powder containing silver, copper, tin and usually a small amount of zinc. However, due to an increasing emphasis on keeping smiles metal-free for health and aesthetic reasons, today fewer dentists recommend dental amalgam fillings as optimal dental treatment.
A Stitch in Time
Historically, a mercury-based material was used to treat tooth decay as early as the 7th century by the Chinese. By the Middle Ages, it became a popular tooth filling across the globe. Then, around 1859, tin was added to refine the use of amalgam for teeth; this is now the mixture that we are familiar with today.
Gossip, Rumors, and Hoopla
Over the years, there has been much concern about the safety of this abundant dental material. This has been a serious concern for many consumers, and numerous research studies have been conducted to dispel the many myths that surround dental amalgam and mercury poisoning. A panel was convened comprising of scientists from the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, the Center for Devices and Radiological Health of the FDA, the CDC, and the Public Health Service's chief dental officer, here are their results: