Metallic amalgam fillings have been used successfully to restore teeth for more than 100 years.
Over the past 40 years, there have been rapid developments in more aesthetic tooth coloured “composite” filling materials.
The amalgam filling has been replaced by a tooth coloured “composite” filling.
There is now a range of different tooth coloured filling materials that are acceptable for use. Newer tooth coloured fillings are more colour stable than they used to be. Replacing yellowed and discoloured “white fillings” with newer materials can make fillings look much less noticeable.
There are limitations to using tooth coloured fillings to restore cavities in back teeth. Tooth coloured materials perform best in smaller cavities. Very extensive cavities which extend between the teeth and close to, or below the gum line are more difficult to restore reliably with tooth coloured fillings. Amalgam still fulfils an important role as a filling material in these deeper cavities. Alternatives to amalgam in large cavities include using cast gold inlays or crowns.