Composite Fillings vs. Metal Fillings
Throughout history, dentists and those intent on improving oral health have used a number of different filling materials for compromised teeth. From pure gold to silver, composite and even beeswax, plenty of materials have been used to fill teeth. Two fillings have emerged as the best: composite resin and silver amalgam, also known as metal fillings. Part of the appeal of the composite variety is it looks exactly like natural teeth. However, there are some benefits to metal fillings as well. Let's take a look at the differences between composite resin fillings and metal fillings to help patients select the type that is optimal for their unique mouth.
The Basics of Metal Fillings
Metal fillings are made of an alloy of silver, mercury, copper, and tin. Such fillings also referred to as dental amalgam, have been in use for nearly two centuries. Today's dental amalgam is much different from that of yesteryear. Modern-day amalgam fillings are the result of decades of progression. Have your compromised tooth filled with amalgam and your new metal filling will prove much more durable and safer than those used years ago.
The Advantages of Metal Fillings
One of the primary advantages of opting for metal fillings as opposed to composite fillings is the cost. Metal fillings are not as expensive as other types of fillings. The low price of amalgam fillings makes them optimal for those who are cash-strapped as well as use on kids' teeth. Kids do not care much about the look of their teeth so the presence of a silver filling will not be as big of a deal as it would be to a teenager or adult. Furthermore, baby teeth typically fall out by age 12 so there is no sense in spending for an aesthetically pleasing composite filling when the tooth will be useless sooner rather than later.
Metal fillings are also revered for their durability. These fillings typically last upwards of 13 years compared to the 7 to 8-year lifespan of composite fillings. It is possible for your metal fillings to last upwards of two full decades if you care for them in the proper manner. Another benefit of metal filling is they are not that sensitive to moisture. This lack of sensitivity makes it is easier for dentists to place dental amalgam.
The Basics of Composite Fillings
Composite fillings1 are comprised of ground porcelain along with durable resins. The porcelain is white in color to ensure it blends in nicely with the surrounding teeth. The dentist gently removes the decayed portion of the tooth and cleans the area prior to placing the composite filling. A diminutive ultraviolet light is required to cure the composite filling after it is piped into place. The end result is a lovely-looking smile that looks perfectly natural.
The Merits of Composite Fillings
Composite fillings are quick and easy for the patient as well as the dentist. It hardly takes any time at all for a composite filling to cure after the ultraviolet light is applied. The composite material bonds directly to the tooth in question. Perhaps the clearest benefit of composite fillings is the fact that they look just like regular teeth. Even those who are within inches of your teeth will not be able to tell you have a composite filling. While metal fillings remain in place as a result of the cavity's shape, the composite variety bonds directly with the compromised tooth. As a result, there is less space for decay to form. Furthermore, this tight bond ensures the tooth structure remains robust long after the filling is applied.
Which is Better for Your Mouth: Metal or Composite Fillings?
In order to determine which type of filling is ideal for your specific mouth, it is necessary to conduct an analysis that delves into the negatives as well as the positives of both varieties. Our dental team has done the work for you. Let's take a look at the drawbacks of metal fillings and composite fillings.
Opt for a silver filling and it will be much more visible than the composite variety. Silver fillings gradually darken as time progresses. It is even possible for metal fillings to turn black so that they resemble the cavities they were meant to replace. Some concerns about the mercury component of metal fillings have also been raised. It must be noted the American Dental Association has not yet declared metal fillings to be 100% safe. This is precisely why plenty of parents are skeptical that the mercury within metal fillings might eventually cause some minor issues down the line. Finally, it must be noted that a metal filling can leach into the tooth in question, leaving a mark behind that makes the tooth appear grey in hue.
Let's turn our attention to the negatives of composite fillings to help patients get a better idea as to whether composite or metal fillings are optimal. Composite fillings rarely last as long as conventional metal fillings. This comparably short lifespan is the result of composite fillings' failure to self-seal as occurs with metal fillings. Furthermore, composite fillings often mandate several visits to the dentist's office as these fillings must be positioned in a layered format to work their magic.
Making the Decision
If the compromised tooth in question is positioned toward the front of the mouth and will be visible when you smile or laugh, your dentist will likely recommend the aesthetically pleasing composite filling. If the tooth is in the back portion of the mouth and there is considerable decay, a metal filling might prove better as it will last longer, and no one will see it. When in doubt, consult with your dentist to determine which type of filling is perfect for your mouth.
Schedule an Appointment With Smile Hawaii 21st Century Dentistry
If you suspect or know you need a filling, do not delay scheduling a dental appointment. Our oral health experts are here to provide the perfect new filling for your tooth. Give us a call at (808) 877-8090 to learn more about our dental services and schedule an appointment2.