Amalgam vs. Composite: Which is Better for Your Smile?

Posted by Auburn Dental Center on Jul 1 2019, 10:14 AM

Amalgam vs. Composite: Which is Better for Your Smile?

No one wants cavities, but when one happens, quick and decisive action can ensure that as much of your natural tooth as possible is preserved. Depending on the size and severity of decay, the dentist will most likely recommend a filling. You now have two options – amalgam, or composite resin. But how do you know which one to take? Do you simply take the dentist’s recommendation, or is this worth further consideration?

We’ll discuss the pros and cons of both options so that you can get a better idea of which one would be right for you.

Amalgam vs. Composite: What’s the difference?

Amalgam fillings are made of a mix of metals. They are darkly colored, and are what comes to mind when most people think of fillings. Composite fillings use a composite resin that is shade-matched to tooth enamel. Both are used to fill in spaces left after decayed enamel has been removed, but there are key differences in how they are applied. Also, amalgam fillings have been used for more than a century, while composite resin fillings first came into public use in the 1960’s.

Amalgam Fillings: Pros and Cons

The long history of amalgam fillings has allowed for them to be tested and refined over many years. They are considered the more durable option, able to withstand a decade or better without wearing or becoming dislodged. They are also self-sealing, providing effective protection against decay.

On the downside, amalgam fillings are fairly noticeable due to the dramatic difference in color from tooth enamel. There are also questions about the safety of amalgam use due to the presence of mercury, which is used to bond the other metals together. Reports of allergy to amalgam fillings is rare, but the concern has led to a decrease in the use of amalgam over composite fillings.

However, dental literature has shown that amalgam fillings are great option especially when there are problem keeping teeth during placement as moisture from saliva can create issues with the sealing of the tooth. The reason being is because amalgams are not as moisture sensitive and therefore makes an excellent tool especially near the back teeth where moisture control tends to be a little more difficult than front teeth.

Composite Fillings: Pros and Cons

One of the biggest reasons for the spike in popularity of composite fillings is that they are nearly invisible to the naked eye. The material is shade-matched to the tooth, allowing it to blend into the surrounding enamel. Moreover, it is highly malleable; it adheres well to the enamel, which means it requires less removal of the enamel for placement.

Composite fillings do have their limitations. They are currently not as durable as amalgam fillings, and while they now last a decade or more on average, they are still comparatively weaker. It is important to note, however, that composite material is continuously being updated, and the lifespan of these fillings is expected to continue improving.

Composite fillings are still a great asset to health conscious individuals as well as cosmetic enthusiasts.  It is still to consider that placement of those fillings are more technique sensitive and that they are not the best option in all situations including when saliva cannot be controlled around the tooth. In which case, your dentist may want to recommend silver fillings. However, newer technologies have proven that there is an alternative to amalgam when it comes to problem with moisture control but still, the material is not as resistant and resilient as amalgam just yet. 

Take Away:

Which filling you choose is ultimately up to you and what you feel comfortable with. Your dentist should give you his professional opinion weighing in on all the pros and cons based on the particular situation of your oral cavity. If you would like to consult with a dentist about which filling would suit you best, schedule an appointment with Auburn Dental Center today.

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