Tooth filling: Composites vs. Amalgams
Posted on: Wednesday, October 11th, 2017
What’s the difference between composite fillings and amalgams? Amalgams are metal fillings – the word “amalgam” means “a mixture of different elements. In dentistry, an amalgam filling is made from a combination of mercury, silver, tin, and copper. It has been used to repair decayed teeth for 150 years.
An amalgam filling is very long-lasting but when it is created, a dentist must remove more tooth material than just the part that is decayed. This is because an amalgam filling does not actually bond with the tooth. So some healthy tooth material must be removed so the filling is large enough and deep enough to sit securely in the tooth.
As long as an amalgam filling is in good condition, there is no need to replace it before it is worn out, unless a patient considers it unsightly.
A composite filling is made of a tooth-colored mixture of plastics and glass. It can be tinted to match the color of your teeth. A composite filling does bond to your teeth, meaning that less healthy tooth material needs to be removed. A composite filling actually strengthens a tooth that has had some of its substance removed by drilling. In contrast, one test showed that amalgam fillings can weaken teeth.
To create a composite filling, once the decayed tooth material has been drilled away, composite material is laid into the drill area in layers. A special light is shined onto each layer to harden it. When the tooth has been fully restored, the composite filling will be polished to prevent staining.
In our practice, we only offer composite fillings. After all, it is the more recently developed technology. Many of our patients ask for these fillings. We love these fillings because of the aesthetic improvement they provide. When you smile, yawn or laugh, you will only show pearly white teeth, undarkened with older amalgam fillings.
If you have any questions about amalgams or composite fillings, or if you would like to talk to us about replacing your amalgam fillings with tooth-colored material, please call our office and let us help you make your choices.
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