Dental Fillings: Composite Versus Amalgam
Dental fillings are used to repair an area of tooth decay, or a cavity. There are many different types of filling materials that can be used. The two most commonly known options are composite (tooth-colored) and amalgam (silver). While many dentists are making the switch to composite resin, you may be one that still has one (or a few) amalgam fillings left in your mouth. Here is a closer look at the difference between the two and why the majority of dentists and patients prefer composite fillings.
A composite filling is a mixture of plastic and glass. Since it is tooth-colored in appearance, composites can be used for both cosmetic improvements as well as cavity repair. The application process of a composite filling is simple and quick. The composite resin material is placed in layers and a specialized light is used to harden each layer. Once the cavity is filled, the dentist can shape the composite to precisely fit the tooth. Finally, the filling is polished to prevent staining and early wear. A composite material can be uniquely customized to blend with the natural shade of your teeth. The drawbacks of composite fillings include the potential for tooth sensitivity as well as the early wear that is more common in large fillings of composite resin. However, these cons are often outweighed by the more valued advantages over silver fillings.
Dental amalgam is another name for silver fillings. Some actually refer to this type of filling as a mercury filling because it does contain a mixture of mercury, tin, silver and copper. Amalgam has been used in tooth decay repair for over 150 years. However, many patients want to avoid the unnatural and unsightly appearance of a silver colored filling, and they may also be concerned about its safety. Mercury makes up about 50% of the compound, which is a major source of controversy. While it is not proven that the mercury content is enough to do damage, there are some that are concerned about the potential health effects of a leaking mercury filling. Regardless, there are still dentists who offer amalgam fillings and patients who prefer them, as they are typically cheaper and stronger than alternative methods.
While you are faced with options in how you fill your cavity, it is never an option to avoid treatment altogether. Not filing an area of decay can lead to tooth loss and other serious health conditions. At Gilreath Dental Associates, we are committed to offering effective, safe and natural-looking solutions in restorative dentistry. Therefore, we proudly offer composite, tooth-colored fillings to patients in Marietta.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Paul Gilreath IV, Gilreath Dental Associates