People have been getting cavities for as long as humans have been eating. Our ancient ancestors tried to repair tooth decay with fillings made of beeswax and other malleable substances. Today, however, there are two choices: a filling made of an amalgam of metal or one made of composite resin. Read on to learn about the pros and cons of each from a dentist in Washington.
What is an Amalgam Filling?
Amalgam fillings look silver, but they are actually a combination of metal including silver, tin, copper and mercury. Mercury helps the other metals bind together and, therefore, makes the filling stronger and more durable. However, the use of mercury has come into question in recent years because of possible evidence connecting this heavy metal to various health issues.
The Pros and Cons of an Amalgam Filling
Amalgam fillings have been around since 1895, so they are a proven solution to tooth decay. They typically last for at least 15 years before needing replacement. Finally, amalgam fillings usually cost less than composite.
On the downside, the silver finish of amalgam fillings can make them very noticeable when you open your mouth to eat or speak. In addition, some people are very sensitive to the metal content in these fillings.
What is a Composite Filling?
A composite filling goes by a more commonly known name: tooth-colored filling. The reason is obvious. These fillings are made of composite resin material, which ceramic, medical plastic and granulated glass.
The Pros and Cons of Composite Fillings
The composite material is chosen to precisely match the color of your tooth. In this way, the filling blends seamlessly with the rest of your smile.
Also, composite fillings bond with the remaining tooth structure for greater strength and support. This also helps prevent cracking, a problem than amalgam fillings eventually could have, and serves to protect the tooth from the effects of temperature changes.
There are only a couple of cons to having composite fillings. One is that they may need to be replaced sooner than an amalgam filling; possibly in five to seven years. Also, the process of placing a composite filling takes a bit longer so you’ll need to spend more time in the dentist’s chair.
Which Type of Filling Should I Have?
You and the dentist near me will decide whether an amalgam or composite filling is best. The size and location of the cavity will be the most important factor in your decision. Other considerations include your dental history, cosmetic concerns and the coverage your dental insurance offers for amalgam vs. composite fillings.
Meet Dr. Mace
James J. Mace, DDS, offers patients a variety of preventive, restorative cosmetic dentistry services. If you have a cavity or need another type of restorative procedure, Dr. Mace and his team will partner with you to recreate the flawless, healthy smile you deserve. When you’re ready to get started, call to schedule an appointment.