Amalgam Fillings vs. Composite What's the Difference?
Understanding Your Choices
You probably know you need a filling after decay is removed but not so much about the different materials available.
Both amalgam and composite fillings can be used to restore your tooth, protecting it from further damage and decay by closing spaces that are left behind after the tooth has been treated.
Composite fillings have become an effective and more aesthetic solution for restoring teeth. However, in some case, amalgam may be recommended to provide the necessary strength to withstand greater force.
So are they really that different?
The Greatest Difference Between These Materials Is Their Appearance
So what else do I need to know to make my decision?
The Defining Differences between Amalgam & Composite Fillings
Amalgam fillings have a darker, silver color once applied to teeth, making them instantly noticeable. On the other hand, composite fillings are tooth-colored, allowing them to blend with the rest of the tooth.
DurabilityWhile composite fillings can withstand the normal stresses of chewing, they are less resistant to excessive force. This is why amalgam fillings are typically recommended for patients who suffer from bruxism or temporomandibular (TMJ) disorder.
Alteration to the Natural Tooth Structure
To properly secure an amalgam filling, special alterations must be made to the tooth, removing more of the natural structure. Composite fillings can be bonded directly to the tooth.
CostTypically, composite fillings are slightly more expensive than amalgam fillings. Additionally, they may not be covered by insurance due to a difference in the cost of materials.
Durability & Replacement of Composite Fillings
According to the American Dental Association, studies have shown that composite fillings can be less durable in certain circumstances and may require more frequent replacement compared to amalgam fillings.
These treatments can offer many of the same benefits when it comes to your oral health...
Both Amalgam & Composite Fillings Are Safe & Reliable Solutions
Restore the Shape of Your Tooth
Once the doctor removes the decayed portion of the tooth, an opening will be left behind. Placing a filling of any kind can restore proper shape and complete your tooth.
Provide Strength & Protection
Without a filling, your tooth would be weaker structurally and substantially exposed to bacteria. A filling provides strength and protection to help prevent further breakage or infection.
Safe to Use
You may be under the impression that because amalgam fillings contain mercury that they are dangerous. However, that is not the case. You are exposed to more harmful amounts of mercury in the air and in your food.
Amalgam Is Safe
Just how common are dental fillings?
Millions of Patients Successfully Repair Their Teeth with Fillings Each Year
Over 100 million amalgam fillings are placed each year and composite fillings continue to grow in popularity. While there has been debate as to which has a higher survival rate, it has been found that both have a 10-year success rate of nearly 80 percent.
Like any procedure, there are pros and cons for each type of filling...
Considering the Pros & Cons
|Composite Fillings||Amalgam Fillings|
|Safe dental material that can replace the decayed portion of tooth||X||X|
|Protect both anterior and posterior teeth||X||X|
|Withstand exceptional force caused by teeth grinding or TMJ disorder||X|
|Composite Fillings||Amalgam Fillings|
|Color of the material disrupts the aesthetics of your smile||X|
|Eventually need to be replaced||X||X|
|Must substantially alter the tooth structure||X|
Is A Filling My Only Choice?
Typically, the type of restoration recommended to fix your tooth will depend on the extent of decay.
If you have more extensive damage, you may need an inlay or onlay or a dental crown.
Choosing the Best Solution for Your Smile
While composite fillings have grown in popularity due to their more complimentary appearance, amalgam fillings have been trusted for decades. When making your decision, consider these factors: