Amalgam Or Composite?

The wonderful thing about science is that previously held beliefs will turn out to not be true based on evidence that scientists find, and even strongly accepted theories can crumble in the light of new evidence.

Until now, the orthodoxy had been that amalgam fillings are bad for you, and are carcinogenic, and that composite, tooth colored filling material is a great substitute. Of course, it’s never that easy. It turns out that composite materials leak Bisphenol A, or BPA for short, the same substance that gets out of plastic bottles and causes obesity, decreased cell function, contributes to asthma, and is also carcinogenic. So amalgam is slowly making its way back into the dental labs and technicians are not as reluctant to use it again. The question thus becomes; what kind of filling should I get?


Amalgam is a metallic compound used, in days of yore, to fill teeth. The material is silver colored, and is relatively easy to spot. The material is made of mercury, silver, tin and copper. It scatters x-rays, making analysis of your teeth a little bit more difficult if you have them. Amalgam has also been indicated as having a strong correlation with dementia in the elderly, and in oral cancer cases as well. Mercury is, after all, classified as a toxic substance, and thus, amalgam has at least some levels of highly toxic materials in it. However, the toxic nature of amalgam is still under debate. What is known is that mining and exporting mercury is extremely bad for the environment, and for the miners and people who have to work with the metal as well.


compositeTooth colored composite gradia, or white fillings seemed like a perfect solution at the time. It has no metals in it at all, and definitely no mercury, instead, it is entirely made up of artificial resin. This resin is made of modified plastics of course, but so is everything else, and so the impact on the environment is not particularly heavy. However, there is a slight problem. The material leaches BPA over time, and the longer you have the fillings, he more BPA will be leached into your system, which is not good for it.

All in all, studies seem to suggest that composite resin is still better for you than amalgam. Mercury is really toxic, and should not be near your body. Then again, so is BPA. Perhaps if mercury could be somehow replaced by a less offensive metal, that could be used as a filling, but until then, there seem to be just slightly less problems with composite resin based fillings.  

images: 1. 2.