What is the difference between Amalgam & Composite Fillings?

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When it comes to fixing cavities in your teeth, the most widely used treatment is to clean the excess decay from the tooth and fill in the damaged area. Dental tooth fillings are a type of restoration which is chiefly used to repair teeth which have been lightly damaged. It can also be used in several other ways including correcting a patient’s bite by flattening the surface of their teeth.

Before the filling material is applied to the affected tooth, it first needs to be isolated. This is a vital part of the procedure which prevents moisture from contaminating the target site. Adhesives are then applied to the affected tooth prior to the filling material being placed. The bonding process is then activated using a special light source and the procedure is completed.

There are a number of different materials used in fillings with the most popular being amalgam and composite. Composite fillings which are designed to mimic the shade and colour of your natural teeth have become increasingly popular in recent years. In the past, silver fillings were primarily used in the back teeth however modern composites have been scientifically proven to be able to withstand the pressures put on the rear teeth.

Amalgam fillings, made up of a variety of metals including mercury, tend to be much less expensive than composite fillings due to the materials involved. In some cases however, silver fillings can cause teeth to be vulnerable to breakages, meaning composites may be the cheaper treatment option in the long run. Amalgam fillings have been in use for decades and have tried and tested strength which can often make them a preferable material to composite fillings when treating the rear teeth.

Composite fillings, although more expensive; bring several aesthetic benefits over their amalgam counterparts. They closely match the appearance of your natural teeth, meaning they won't have the aesthetic impact which is associated with amalgam fillings. They also have the advantage of producing less tooth sensitivity in patients when compared with amalgam fillings. Also, composite fillings often require less of your natural tooth structure to be removed when compared to their amalgam counterparts. Similarly, many view the lack of mercury involved in composite fillings as a much safer option than amalgam.

Read more in the Dental Treatment Information Guide »