When to Choose Amalgam vs. Composite Resin

There are two different types of materials used for dental fillings: amalgam and composite resin. Since both materials are effective at treating cavities and preventing the spread of decay many people believe it doesn’t matter which material you choose, but the material you choose does matter.

Make an informed decision regarding what type of material to use next time you need a dental filling by learning the pros and cons associated with both amalgam fillings and composite resin fillings.

The Pros and Cons of Amalgam Fillings

Commonly known as silver fillings, amalgam fillings are made up of a combination of metals. The metals used to create the amalgam material include mercury, copper, tin, and silver.

Some of the advantages of choosing an amalgam filling include:

  • Using proven dental technology – amalgam fillings have been used in the dental industry since 1895
  • Cost effective – amalgam fillings are the cheapest way to treat dental cavities and tooth decay
  • Long lifespans – amalgam fillings can last anywhere from 10 to 15 or 20 years
  • Strong and sturdy

Some of the disadvantages associated with the use of amalgam fillings include:

  • Extremely noticeable – amalgam fillings appear as large, noticeable silver spots
  • Weakens teeth over time – over time amalgam fillings can actually weaken the natural tooth. When this happens there is an increased chance that the tooth may shatter, break, or split in half
  • Allergies – people who are sensitive to metals may not be able to handle amalgam fillings as they can develop an allergic reaction to them
  • Possible health risks – some people believe using amalgam for a dental filling can lead to a number of health problems ranging from autoimmune diseases to cancer
  • More complex aftercare require – there are a number of instructions for aftercare you must follow, such as avoiding certain foods and drinks, when you get an amalgam filling
  • Tooth sensitivity – some people experience tooth sensitivity after an amalgam filling

The Pros and Cons of Composite Resin Fillings

Composite resin fillings have a number of different names. They are sometimes called tooth-colored fillings or white fillings. They get this name because they are made out of a strong, sturdy plastic or ceramic compound that can blend in with the teeth’s natural appearance.

Advantages of composite resin fillings include:

  • Improves cosmetic appearance – the fillings blend in naturally with your teeth and are less noticeable when you smile or open your mouth wide
  • Material bonds directly to your tooth
  • More of your natural tooth is preserved as there is less drilling involved
  • Fewer aftercare instructions
  • Less tooth sensitivity after the procedure

Disadvantages of composite resin fillings include:

  • Procedure takes longer – dentists need to prep the tooth, mix the composite resin solution to create the right shade, place it in the tooth and then go through a bonding process to adhere the material to the tooth
  • Shorter lifespan – composite fillings only last approximately 5 to 8 years
  • Cost more than other filling materials

Factors to Consider When Choosing Which Material to Use for Dental Fillings

Together you and your dentist can determine which material, amalgam or composite resin, is the best for choice for an upcoming dental restoration procedure by discussing the pros and cons of each material.

In addition to discussing the pros and cons of each material, you and your dentist will need to carefully consider several things before making a final decision about which dental filling material to use. Some of the things you will need to consider include:

  • Current budget and insurance coverage – some insurance companies will only cover composite resin fillings if they are on the front teeth
  • Location of the filling – cavities on the biting surface of the teeth may need to be filled with a stronger material than surface cavities in the front of the mouth
  • Size of the cavity – larger cavities may need a stronger filling material as the filling also serves as a stabilizer for the tooth
  • Dental history
  • Cosmetic concerns – people worried about having noticeable fillings may want to consider composite resin fillings as those look more natural

At Artistic Touch Dentistry we make every effort to fill cavities with tooth-colored composite resin. We believe this filling option is the best because it keeps your natural teeth stronger, it is safer and isn’t as noticeable. If for some reason a composite resin fillings cannot be used, such is the case when a cavity is too large or located on a biting surface we can provide recommendations for other treatment options such as dental bridges, dental implants, or a dental crown.

Interested in seeing how Artistic Touch Dentistry can help you improve your oral health then call to schedule an appointment with our Melbourne, Florida dentist. Our dentist will create a customized treatment plan for you that will improve your oral health with a combination of services that include composite resin fillings, dental implants, dental onlays, dental crowns, and dental bridges. Call us today to schedule an appointment.