Composite vs. Amalgam Filling

Composite vs. Amalgam Filling

Did you know that more than 90% of adults living in the United States have had cavities in their permanent teeth?

It’s true, and chances are, by the time you hit 40, tooth decay is something you’ve had to contend with, if not once, then multiple times.

If your dentist has recently diagnosed you with a cavity that needs filling, here are a few facts that will help you to prepare.

What Are Composite Fillings?

Composite fillings are a type of dental filling that is usually used to repair teeth that have cavities or chips. Composite fillings are made from a tooth-colored resin material that is mixed with glass particles to create a strong and durable filling.

A composite filling can be used to repair a tooth that has been damaged from decay, wear, or trauma or as an alternative for someone who cannot have amalgam fillings.

What Are Dental Amalgam Fillings?

Dental amalgam fillings are a type of filling material that is made from a mixture of mercury, silver, tin, and copper. Amalgam fillings are durable and inexpensive. They are also strong and do not require as much care as other types of fillings.

How Are Cavities Filled?

While a dental hygienist often cleans your teeth, only a board-certified dentist is allowed to fill cavities. On the day of your appointment, the dentist will numb the area being treated and then use a small dental drill to clean out the decay from the affected tooth.

Once the area is cleaned, the filling is placed and shaped, so the filling material fits comfortably with your bite. Then, the material is left to harden for a short period.

What Are Fillings Made Of?

When it comes to the materials used for fillings, there are two primary choices: amalgam and composite resin. Other options are available, such as gold, stainless steel, and ceramic, but they can be more expensive and less durable.

While these alternative materials have a unique look, be sure to check with your dental insurance provider first to make sure they are covered under your plan. If not, you’ll have to pay out of pocket.

However, for the majority of people with cavities, amalgam and composite are excellent and affordable choices.

Are Amalgam Fillings Right for You?

Dentists have used amalgam fillings in the US since 1895! This material creates a filling that is silver in color because it is made from a mix of metals, including silver, tin, copper, and mercury.

Amalgam fillings are often used to fill cavities in the back molars because the material is extremely durable, and the area is hard to see. While mercury is used in this filling, it is completely stable and safe because of the other metals it is mixed with.

If you have questions or concerns about this, be sure to raise them with your dentist. They can explain how the amalgam fillings are made and help you decide if it’s the right choice for stopping your tooth decay.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Amalgam Fillings




●     Have successfully treated cavities for over 120 years.

●     Affordable. Often covered by dental insurance and costs less than composite fillings or custom alternatives.

●     Durable. Amalgam fillings can last up to 15 years!

●     Noticeable. When you open your mouth wide, you’ll be able to see the silver fillings.

●     Metal sensitivity. Some people may have a sensitivity to the metals used in the filling.


Are Composite Resin Fillings Right for You?

Unlike amalgam fillings, composite fillings are made from a mixture of ceramic and plastic. These filings are nearly undetectable because the resin is made to match the color of your teeth, and they look much more natural.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Resin Composite Fillings

Advantages: Disadvantages:
●     Unnoticeable. These fillings blend in as they’re created to be the same color as your teeth.

●     Easy to apply. Composite fillings quickly bond to your tooth’s surface.

●     Preserves more of the original tooth. Resin composite fillings require less drilling, so more of your tooth is maintained.

●     Needs routine replacement. Resin composite fillings typically last no longer than seven years.

●     Requires more time. Placing a resin filling often requires a longer appointment than amalgam fillings.

●     Dental insurance plans may not cover resin composite fillings on molars (back teeth).


Cavities Can Be Fixed but Avoiding Them is Best!

While dentists fill cavities almost every day, they would much prefer you keep your teeth healthy and free of the bacteria that contributes to tooth decay!

Reduce your risk of cavities with these tips:

  • At a minimum, brush your teeth every morning and before going to bed with fluoride toothpaste.
  • Get into the habit of flossing your teeth every day.
  • Reduce your consumption of starchy and sugary beverages and snacks.
  • Maintain a schedule of routine dental cleanings and exams. Twice a year is ideal for most people.
  • Contact your dentist if you notice tooth sensitivity, painful gums, or a filling that feels loose.

While getting a cavity filled can be stressful, it is not a difficult or painful procedure. Taking care of your teeth by addressing tooth decay is not only good for your physical health, but it’ll make you feel your best every time you smile!

Choosing Between Composite Fillings And Dental Amalgam Fillings

A dentist will typically use a composite filling to seal a cavity in teeth if the cavity is smaller than about an eighth of an inch across. This is one of the most common dental treatments performed, and it can be done in just one visit.

Dental amalgam fillings are often used for cavities that are larger than what will fit on the tooth with a composite filling material. It’s also used when there is decay that goes below the gum line.

The dentist will first remove the decay and then fill it with amalgam, which is made up of mercury, silver, tin, copper, and lead.

Why Are Dental Fillings Important?

Dental fillings are important for a number of reasons. They can help to prevent tooth decay from spreading and causing more damage, they can help to strengthen fragile teeth, and they can even be used to fill cavities.

However, dental fillings are not just made of mercury anymore. Dental fillings are made of composite resin which is a mixture of plastic and glass filler. These fillings are more aesthetically pleasing and can even match the color of your teeth.

Is It Important To Replace Amalgam Fillings?

When it comes to amalgam filling replacements, the answer is both yes and no. If you are not experiencing any problems with your teeth or you have a history of gum disease that has been treated then you probably do not need to worry about the mercury in the fillings.

However, if your teeth are sensitive, have a long history of gum disease, or have cavities then dental amalgam fillings may be hurting your health and should be replaced.

Safety Concerns For Composite Fillings

One of the most common dental fears is the fear of needles. However, there are other dental fears that can be worse than needles. One such fear is the fear of getting a root canal filling.

Dental fillings are needed to repair cavities and to prevent them from getting worse. A large number of people who have had a root canal filling experience will tell you that it was not nearly as bad as they had expected it to be. Unfortunately, not everyone feels that way and some people still want to avoid any type of dental work.

If you would like to know more about composite fillings and how they might help you avoid a root canal, contact your dentist for more information on composite fillings and their safety concerns.

Safety Concerns For Dental Amalgam Fillings

Dental amalgam fillings are a common treatment for tooth decay and cavities. The durability of these fillings is dependent on the location of the filling and can last up to 10 years. However, despite their longevity, the mercury in these fillings poses a safety risk.

The mercury in dental amalgam fillings can cause a number of health problems. These include memory loss, depression, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and mood swings. Patients who have had these amalgam fillings installed may also experience headaches or dizziness.

In some cases, they may notice changes in their hearing or vision. In addition to these physical problems, there is also a risk that dental amalgam fillings will leak into the body over time. This increases the chance that people will develop health problems from mercury poisoning.

It is important to be aware of the potential risks involved with having a dental amalgam filling installed before making a decision about treatment options for tooth decay and cavities.

Final Verdict

There is no easy answer to this one. There are many factors that need to be taken into consideration. For example, there are some people who cannot get amalgam fillings because of their mercury content.

This is because of the dental health risks that come with amalgam fillings such as heavy metal toxicity which can lead to permanent neurological problems or other health problems if not treated.

There are also instances when amalgam fillings cannot be used because they are in an area where there can be a lot of pressure, in which case composite fillings are better suited.

Composite fillings are also better in cases where it is hard for the dentist to place the amalgam filling properly or when there is gum disease in the area where the filling needs to go. So it really does depend on each individual person’s needs when deciding which type of filling to use.