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Answered 2009-06-18 15:28:20

High copper amalgams are a new class of amalgams introduced by manufacturers starting about 1975-1976. The high copper amalgams are called such because they contain a new mixture of metals that include a significantly higher copper content than the previous generation of amalgam.

The 'high copper' amalgams reportedly have better strength, durability and clinical outcomes than previous low copper versions.

Some amalgam critics have alleged that high copper amalgams off gas Mercury vapor at a much higher rate than the previous low copper versions, up to 50x faster.

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Amalgam is any alloy of mercury. Copper amalgam is very common as filling material in modern dentistry and is considered safe by most dentists even though mercury is well known as a neurotoxin.amalgamAmalgams are alloys of mercury plus other metal(s). Copper amalgams were used many years ago but not any more. They were extremely toxic because dentists had to heat the elements, to get the hardening reaction, but mercury releases very toxic vapors. Modern alloys (until 1980 but still in the market) contain Silver, Tin, Copper and sometimes Zinc, Palladium or Indium. But these do not need to be heated to form the plastic mass, they form alloys by pressure using a mortar, or with automatic mixers (amalgamators). After 1980 many alloys are known as high copper amalgams because they contain more than 12 % copper but they are not considered Copper amalgams, but silver amalgams with high copper content. Some brands contain 30 % Copper and even more, but always more silver than copper.Amalgam (not amalgum) ia an alloy between mercury and another metal.


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Briefly explained, low copper amalgams are also known as "traditional" or "conventional" and have been used for many decades (even at present) and contain less than 6 % copper, while high copper amalgams contain more than 6 % copper, in fact there are 2 main groups, one containing around 12-13 % copper, and the other containing up to 30 % copper. The additional copper helps to increase the formation of gamma 1 (silver-tin) and prevent the formation of a weak phase of dental amalgams, named gamma-2 (tin-mercury) and thus the strength of the final product is higher. Therefore, the high copper amalgams have a higher compressive strength and in general, better mechanical properties, but there is one disadvantage, they release more mercury vapor, a poison for the brain, CNS and many other cells.


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