When your dentist determines that you have a cavity, you know what comes next: a filling. Decades ago, there wasn’t any question about what type of material would be used to fill the cavity, but these days, due to advancements in technology, dentists typically offer a few options. The two most common materials are amalgam and composite. With their varying colors, strengths, and weaknesses, amalgam and composite fillings suit different circumstances. Your dentist will tell you which is most appropriate for your situation. Scroll down to learn more about the difference between amalgam and composite fillings.
Difference Between Amalgam and Composite Fillings
The most obvious difference between amalgam and composite fillings is their color. While composite fillings are designed to match the color of your natural teeth (in shades of white), amalgam fillings are made of metal (most commonly silver, but also copper, zinc, and mercury). So while composite fillings blend in, amalgam fillings stand out with their silvery metallic hues. While this isn’t as big of a concern for fillings on back teeth, even those can be seen when someone opens their mouth to talk, eat, or smile.
In addition, because of the way amalgam fillings are placed, some healthy tooth structure must be removed during the treatment. With composite fillings, on the other hand, dentists are able to remove very little of the tooth. This allows the tooth to retain more of its natural structure and strength.
Based on this, you might assume that composite fillings are clearly superior, but there are other factors to take into consideration . . .
Dental Insurance & Cost
Sometimes dental insurance plans won’t cover composite fillings. For example, your insurance may only cover composite fillings if they’re used on your front teeth in order to restore your smile. So if you need a filling on one of your back teeth, you may prefer to use an amalgam filling that your insurance will cover.
As you might have guessed, amalgam is more cost-effective than composite.
Strength & Durability
Made of plastic and ceramic compounds, composite fillings are strong enough to be used in any tooth in the mouth; however, they may not last as long as amalgam fillings. Over time, they may become worn down from chewing and grinding. So if your dentist is concerned about wear and tear, they may recommend that you use amalgam fillings instead of composite. Especially in the back of the mouth, amalgam fillings are often preferred for their strength.
Keep in mind that a filling’s lifespan depends on how well you take care of it. The filling’s location in the mouth will also impact its longevity.
As you can see, many factors come into play when comparing composite and amalgam fillings: aesthetics, cost, dental insurance coverage, strength, durability, and more. So we encourage you to ask yourself a few questions:
Where will the filling be located?
How concerned are you with aesthetics?
What will your dental insurance cover?
Are strength and durability a top concern?
Do you grind your teeth?
Most importantly, what does your dentist recommend?
Cavities are incredibly common – and thus, so are fillings! If you’re having trouble differentiating between amalgam and composite fillings, ask your dentist or dental hygienist for more information. With their help, you can select the right material for your situation.
Looking for a new dentist? Contact Wilkinson Dental if you live in or near Springfield, Missouri. You can request an appointment online or give us a call at 417-882-8222. We look forward to hearing from you.