- A moderate to large amounts of decay on a portion of a posterior tooth
A silver (or amalgam) filling is a mixture of silver/tin alloy and mercury. After the decay is removed and cleaned, this silver colored filling material is packed into the tooth and shaped.
Silver fillings have been used for more than 125 years. Their biggest advantage is that they are quickly placed. They are also relatively durable.
Silver fillings do not bond (stick) to the tooth structure. This requires the tooth preparation to be "undercut," creating a hole that is smaller at the surface of the tooth and wider inside. This undercut keeps the filling from coming out of the tooth.
The visible silver color of these fillings are unattractive to some patients.
Composite, gold inlays and onlay, porcelain inlays and onlays are all alternatives, limiting the removal of healthy tissue. In cases of extensive decay, inlays/onlays or crowns are a better restoration.