There's now an alternative to amalgam dental fillings, but are tooth-coloured resin composite fillings better than silver-coloured amalgam fillings? Durability, application method and cost are a few of the variables to take into consideration when choosing the material for your next filling. Here's an overview of both types of filling material:
Amalgam fillings tend to be stronger than the newer resin composite fillings, as they consist of a combination of tin, copper, silver and mercury. The durability of this type of filling makes it a good option for filling cavities in molars. These are the teeth you use for chewing, so fillings in these teeth have to be able to withstand ongoing pressure and friction. Amalgam fillings are inexpensive, as they can be completed quickly due to the ease with which the material moulds into the cavity.
The presence of mercury in amalgam fillings has led to patients switching to resin composite fillings. There have been concerns over the safety of mercury, but did you know there is more than one type of mercury? The elemental metallic mercury used by dentists has been studied extensively and is considered safe.
These tooth-coloured fillings look better than amalgam fillings, and no-one will notice you have them when you smile or laugh. Some patients prefer resin composite fillings because they are free from metal. They are composed of ceramic and compounds of plastic, so they are not as robust as amalgam fillings. For this reason, dentists often advise patients to have amalgam fillings for cavities on molars and resin composite fillings for cavities on teeth that aren't used for chewing. However, resin composite can be used on molars, but may need to be replaced or repaired over time, while amalgam fillings often last a lifetime.
It's more difficult and time-consuming to fill a cavity with resin composite, so these fillings are more expensive than amalgam fillings and aren't always covered by insurance providers. The dentist has to cure the material once it's in place, so they have to ensure your mouth is kept dry or the resin composite will not harden or stay in place.
There's no aftercare required for either type of filling, and you can eat and drink as soon as you leave the dentist surgery. It's advisable to have a cavity filled as soon as it's identified in order to prevent bacteria causing an infection in the soft pulp of the tooth, so if you're experiencing tooth pain, book a dental exam as soon as possible. For more information, contact a cosmetic dentist.