Dental fillings are a valuable treatment for tooth decay. For centuries, there wasn’t much change in the procedure of fillings as dentists removed decay and replaced it with a metal alloy. Although these metal alloy or amalgam fillings have proven highly effective, they’re not very aesthetically pleasing and have other disadvantages. Thankfully, today’s dentists have a more cosmetically appropriate treatment for treating tooth decay with composite, tooth-colored fillings that have the potential to leave older, amalgam style fillings in the past.
Amalgam filling disadvantages
While dentists still use amalgam fillings because of their lower cost compared to other materials, many patients are opting for composite fillings instead. Amalgam fillings don’t look like a natural tooth and over time can darken and stain the surrounding tooth structure. Unlike other decay treatment materials, amalgam doesn’t form a natural bond with tooth tissue, which means dentists have to remove more of the natural tooth to shape the surface and ensure adequate adhesion. Removing natural tooth material is especially detrimental in teeth that don’t have much remaining due to decay. Teeth treated with amalgam fillings can be more sensitive to temperature changes as the material responds to heat and cold more than other materials. This characteristic of amalgam means that the fillings can expand eventually and crack the tooth, which may require the placement of a dental crown.
Advantages of composite, tooth-colored fillings
Composite, tooth-colored fillings have none of the problems of amalgam fillings and have several advantages over metal fillings including:
- Natural looking – Composite fillings blend in with surrounding tooth tissue and are inconspicuous even on front teeth.
- Improved texture – Unlike amalgam fillings, composite fillings are easier for a cosmetic dentist to shape and sculpt into a realistic tooth surface appearance.
- Better adhesion – Composite materials adhere naturally to tooth tissue, which means the dentist doesn’t have to remove as much existing tooth material during preparation.
- Restored strength – Teeth treated with composite fillings receive restoration to almost their natural strength.
- Potentially safer – Some patients have an allergic reaction to amalgam, while there have been no known allergic reactions to composite materials.
- Affordable option – Compared to other tooth-colored filling materials such as porcelain, composite fillings are more affordable and offer a large improvement over metal fillings.
The only major disadvantage of composite fillings is that they may not last as long as amalgam fillings, but with the continuing improvements and innovations in composite materials, these tooth-colored fillings have the potential to last longer than past versions.
Dupont Dental is proud to offer composite fillings as part of our restorative dental services. With composite fillings, we restore the health of your teeth while preserving the pleasing appearance of your smile.