You visit your dentist for a routine cleaning and learn that you have a new cavity that will need filling. You know that there are different materials today that can be used when it comes to fillings. But how do you decide which to choose when your dentist gives you the option?
Basically, there are two types of fillings—traditional fillings made of metal amalgam, and fillings made of natural tooth-colored materials, such as resin-based composites.
Dental amalgam fillings
Dental amalgams, commonly known as “silver” fillings, are typically a mixture of mercury, silver, tin and copper. Their average life span is 8 to 10 years, but many last 20 years or more, making them a good choice if you are looking for a long-term, low-maintenance filling.
Strong and durable, amalgams are ideal for teeth in areas that must withstand extreme forces from chewing, such as in the back of the mouth. Dentists like amalgam fillings because they are easy to work with. Patients often choose them because they are cost-effective and can be filled quickly.
Composite resin fillings
Made of ceramic and plastic compounds, resin-based fillings, or “white” fillings, mimic the appearance of natural teeth. Because they make fillings look more natural, composite fillings are quickly becoming the filling of choice with patients today, especially for front teeth fillings.
Initially, resin compounds weren’t strong enough to be used in back teeth, but today’s more durable resin materials result in good durability and resistance to fracture in small- to mid-size fillings that need to withstand constant, moderate pressure from chewing.
Resin fillings do require that the prepared tooth be completely dry when the resin material is being applied and cured. While a resin filling costs more than an amalgam filling, most dental plans today cover resin fillings in teeth that are visible in a patient’s smile.
Deciding which type of filling to use is best made by the patient and dentist, taking into account the size and location of the cavity, patient history, cosmetic concerns and cost. Dr. Angell will be happy to discuss all of the choices available for dental fillings and help you decide which alternative is right for you.
If you are looking for a dentist in the Troy and Birmingham area who utilizes the latest dental techniques and technology, be sure to check out Dr. Douglas Angell. Angell’s Dentistry is committed to providing each of our patients with a beautiful, healthy smile and unmatched dental care. Be sure to visit our website at: www.angellsdentistry.com.