Composite Fillings

You know the drill!

What are Composite Fillings?

Composite fillings, also known as tooth-colored fillings, are used to restore decayed teeth. They are often made up of powdered glass and acrylic resin and can also be used in cosmetic dentistry to improve the shape of the teeth.  

Many people choose composite fillings because they look more natural compared to amalgam or gold fillings, which can be easily noticeable in the mouth. These fillings can be closely matched to the color of your existing teeth, which makes them great choices for front teeth or visible parts of the teeth.

Composite fillings also have many other advantages, including:

  • They chemically bond to the tooth structure for further support.
  • They are durable and fracture-resistant.
  • Can be used to repair chipped, broken, or worn-down teeth.
  • Preparation often spares more of the tooth than amalgam fillings.

What is the Difference Between Composite and Amalgam Fillings?

Important QualitiesCompositeAmalgam
Tooth colored fillings with fantastic shade matchingSilver fillings of just different shades of silver that corrode over time, causing discoloration
Durability & Longevity Questionable when compared to amalgam, however can last yearsLast longer than composites
Cavity PreparationNot limited to cavity - shallow or deep, small or big = conservation of tooth structureMust be a certain depth for retention of amalgam
Technique SensitivityNeed clean and dry environment - completely intolerant of moistureCan tolerate moisture and saliva
Chair TimeComparably more time in the chairLess time in the chair
CostMore costlyLess expensive

Tooth Colored Fillings

Composite Fillings are matched to be the same color as your teeth and therefore used where a natural appearance is desired. The ingredients are mixed and placed directly into the cavity, where they harden. Composites may not be the ideal material for large fillings as they may chip or wear over time. They can also become stained from coffee, tea or tobacco, and do not last as long as other types of fillings generally from three to 10 years.

Amalgam Fillings

Going old school! Amalgam is a combination of metals including silver, mercury, tin and copper, and small amounts of zinc, indium or palladium may also be used. Effectively used for 150 years, amalgam holds up exceptionally well , especially in posterior teeth that undergo a lot of pressure and wear from biting & chewing forces. These fillings can last far longer than composite/white restorations. .

Though amalgam is now used far less, certain circumstances may warrant considering using amalgam fillings or “silver fillings”. They may not be as pretty as their esthetic tooth colored counterparts, but they may just be the right fit, especially in areas out of our esthetic zone that may be hard to isolate. Also, amalgam is less expensive than other dental materials.

Patients often ask, "is amalgam safe?" The short answer is YES! To better understand the controversy surrounding the issue, here is why it’s been up for debate:

The controversy over amalgam centers on how much mercury is released and how much the body absorbs. In the past, amalgam fillings were thought to be inert. However, more sophisticated tests have changed this view. Very small amounts of mercury in the form of vapor can be released as the amalgam filling wears. However, because the concern with amalgam is directly related to the amount of exposure, those people that are already exposed to higher amounts of mercury may want to avoid amalgam fillings, whether it is through their job or consumption of large amounts of seafood.