Advances in dental technology has made it possible to achieve tooth restorations that look, feel, and function much like our natural teeth. However, many dentists and patients still rely on traditional silver amalgam fillings to restore teeth that have succumb to decay. In terms of aesthetics, white composite resin is the obvious choice. However, amalgam fillings are typically more durable. So when it comes to tooth fillings, which is the better filling material?
Dental amalgam is a type of filling made by combining silver, mercury, copper, and tin. Also referred to as “silver-colored” fillings, amalgam has been used by restorative dentists for more than a century due to its long-lasting nature and inexpensive cost. Amalgam fillings harden quickly and typically take less time to place than composite resin.
One of the biggest downfalls of amalgam is that it doesn’t appear natural, and can be unappealing when placed near the front of the mouth where it can be seen when speaking. Before an amalgam filling can be placed, more of the tooth structure must be removed than with a composite resin filling.
Composite Resin Fillings
Composite resin fillings consist of a glass and plastic mixture used to restore decayed teeth. Due to their white color, composites are often used on the front teeth to maintain a bright smile, but can also be used on back teeth. While prices vary, composite resin fillings can cost up to two times the amount of silver amalgam.
During placement of a composite resin filling, the composite is placed in layers, and a specialized light is used to harden each layer as it’s placed. The dentist then shapes the composite to fit the tooth. While composite provides a more aesthetically-pleasing smile, it’s more susceptible to staining, especially if the patient drinks cola, coffee, or tea.
Which is Better?
Both silver amalgam and composite resin fillings have their pros and cons. However, the choice of which filling to use should differ from patient to patient, depending on factors such as budget, tooth location, condition of the tooth, and the importance of maintaining an all-white smile.
When making an appointment to get a dental filling, you’ll likely be asked to choose between a number of filling materials, the most common being amalgam and composite resin. Knowing the differences between the two filling types is critical so that you can make an informed decision. For more information about tooth fillings in Charlotte, NC, contact Dr. Schwartz.