Why does the dental profession continue to use amalgam when questions are being raised about its safety, even if there are no proven dangers?
Every time a foreign substance is used in the human body for therapeutic purposes, there is an element of risk. Health professionals must constantly weigh the known risks of a particular intervention against known benefits. In the case of dental amalgam, the scientific evidence indicates that no significant risks are involved. If there were risks, they would have been clearly observed during the 150 years that this material has been in use.
Dental team members, in particular, would have shown clinically demonstrable effects due to their considerable exposure to the substance. The risks associated with the use of dental amalgam appear to be limited, and the benefits to patients are known to be large. Dental amalgam is much stronger and more durable than alternative restorative materials, and amalgam restorations can be completed at a more reasonable cost. Recent advances, such as the development of amalgam bonding techniques, have made amalgam even more advantageous as a restorative material.
Gold alloy inlay castings would be a reasonable substitute if the material and required procedures were not so costly. It is also possible that alternative materials, subjected to the same level of scrutiny as dental amalgam, will prove to have other advantages and disadvantages. The dental profession is aware of research to find more durable alternatives to amalgam, and these materials may be available within the next decade.