The new compound, thiourethane, could soon become the standard filling material for cavities and are expected to be as strong and long-lasting as amalgam.
Dental authorities around the world have quietly dropped amalgam after concerns that dentists could face legal claims from patients who have suffered poor health—or worse—after having the fillings. Dentists were barred from using amalgam on pregnant women, but many critics believe that the vapours from the fillings have the potential to affect anyone.
Researchers at the OHSU School of Dentistry in Oregon have been developing the new compound together with a new, and stronger, adhesive.
The resin compounds that have replaced amalgam last for only between seven to 10 years, and they can crack when people chew.
But what's not known is the safety of thiourethane and its long-term impact on health.