Oct 12

Amalgam vs composite fillings - Which one is the better?

Oct 12

Obviously, no one loves to hear “You have a cavity” from a dentist or in fact from anyone. And why take such comments?  The world is advancing with the speed of light, there are numerous options to consider to treat your tooth.

Back then, we used to have just a few options for a tooth filling, of which one was an amalgam. However, today, dentists offer newer methods and composite filling is one of them.

How to decide which one is better for you? Well, for starters, composite resin fillings are similar to your tooth color, while an amalgam filling is made from metals that become prominent when you talk or laugh. Therefore, having prior knowledge of their pros and cons would help you make a sound decision.

Even though it’s not impossible to coast through life without tooth decay or cavity, there is still the slightest chance that you might have to get one sometime in your life. As per the research, approx 90 percent of Americans suffer cavities in their 20s and 60s. And 96 percent develop at 65 and above. When it comes to amalgam vs composite fillings, both have their pros and cons. Let’s explore further about its pros and cons.

Amalgam vs Composite fillings - Pros and Cons

Whether it is an amalgam or composite filling, both of them serve the same purpose of treating cavities. Despite having similarities, they have some major differences. Scroll down and learn the differences between each.

1.    Amalgam Filling

Like its name says, amalgam filling is made from different metals, such as copper, zinc, mercury, and silver. Thereby, they are often called silver filling. Generally, people prefer this filling as it offers durability and high resistance to damage. On average, an amalgam filling lasts for at least 15 years if properly cared for. Since it is made of metal alloy, it provides greater coverage for larger cavities.

Next, amalgam filling stands out when you laugh or talk as it is made of metal. Typically, they have a silver color appearance.

Amalgam filling changes its size. When you expose the filling to cold or hot temperatures, it contracts and expands. This can cause tooth breakage. Not just that, if the food fragment gets underneath the filling material, it can further cavities.

Since fillings require a lot of room inside a tooth, dentists have to drill to bond the filling. Amalgam filling requires more room as it does not easily bond with the tooth. So if you are going for amalgam, be mentally prepared that you will be giving up a good chunk of your healthy tooth.

Over the years, amalgam filling has developed a bad reputation. The underlying reason for that is the mercury metal used in it. The presence of mercury makes it riskier for some people who are allergic to metals. Another reason why some people avoid it is that it dulls the shine of your tooth over time and eventually will turn your tooth color into greyish. 

1.    Composite Filling

Composite fillings, commonly known as tooth-colored dental fillings, are ceramic and acrylic that look natural and blend with your original smile. It treats your teeth without making them look odd. The best part is that it requires less enamel filing, which means your teeth will have a natural structure.

Composite fillings do not last for long. It has 5 years of average longevity. The durability of any filling also depends on its location. For instance, composite resin fillings on the front teeth can last for 10 years or even more.

Composite fillings are not temperature sensitive. So they don’t change their shapes like amalgam fillings.

Moreover, they easily bond with the teeth, so dentists don’t have to drill out a lot of parts of your tooth to put it in place.

The only downside to composite filling is durability. They do not last as long as amalgam fillings do. Generally, they take more time to treat than metal alloy fillings, which costs you a lot. Even though it's a newer treatment in dentistry, it is not as effective and will last for 10 years approx.

Which one to choose - Amalgam vs Composite filling

 Before you decide on filling material, consider all the aforementioned pros and cons and then decide what’s more important for you. For instance, if you want a natural look and are comfortable getting your filling changed after 5 to 10 years, you can go for a composite filling. On the other hand, if you can stand silver dents on teeth and prioritize durability, then amalgam filling is what you should go for.

Still, consult your dentist if you can’t figure out which type of filling is best for you. They will guide you on what’s best for you after taking a thorough look at your decayed teeth.