Composite fillings are made up of acrylic and glass particles, and contain no mercury or other metals. The filling material is white or matched to the colour of your teeth and has a very natural appearance.
- With composite fillings, we can now do more conservative restorations with the removal of less tooth structure, or just the decayed area of the tooth, so more of the original tooth is left intact. We can detect and treat cavities at an earlier stage, without the need of anesthetic with this filling material.
- Composite filling integrates with the tooth.
- We now can make a smaller hole, since the white material can flow into small places.
- Due to the smaller hole, there is more of your own tooth left, leaving it stronger.
- Secondary decay is easier to spot beneath tooth colored fillings.
- If damaged, they can be easily fixed.
- They are temperature and electrical insulators-resistant to extremes of heat and cold. There is some sensitivity regardless
- Environmentally safe-no hazardous metal wastes to dispose of and no risk of mercury allergy.
- Allows us to fix smaller cavities.
- You don’t have to wait till a cavity gets “big enough to fill”.
In some cases we can do an almost microscopic filling just when it starts by using air abrasion instead of the drill. These are often done without anesthetic if we catch them early enough.
- They are a more natural, attractive choice.
- Composites bond to the tooth to support the remaining tooth to help prevent breakage.
- Composite insulate the tooth from excessive temperature changes.
- Composites (white fillings) last about 8 years with a range of 7-10 years.
- Composite fillings are technique-sensitive which means that it has to be done in a specific way in a dry area. The tooth must be isolated and kept dry in the mouth, which is wet with saliva. The tooth area being filled cannot be contaminated with saliva as it is being filled with the composite material.
- The presence of saliva can compromise the bonding process.
- The tooth requires isolation.
- Potential to leak.
- Some insurance companies do not yet cover them.
Amalgam Fillings (silver):
Amalgam fillings (silver) are a mixture of metals such as 65% silver, 6% copper,2% zinc and 25% tin bound with elemental mercury. The mercury acts as glue that binds these metals into a hard stable, and safe substance that can last for decades.
- Strong and long lasting.
- They expand over time to fill the entire space of the cavity.
- They are quick and easy to install.
- They are less expensive and more cost effective than composite or while fillings.
- They are usually covered by insurance.
- In placing the amalgam, the tooth needs to be prepared in a particular way to retain the filling. This means that after the removal of the decayed tooth or caries, there may need to be more healthy tooth structure removed to help “lock in” the amalgam( which is not necessary in the composite filling where the material is “glued in”)
The mercury in an amalgam expands and contracts with temperature change which places pressure within the tooth. This filling material acts like a chisel, weakening of the enamel walls of the tooth, resulting in tooth breakage.
Because healthy tooth structure is needed to lock these fillings into place, the space is made larger at the bottom than at the top of the tooth. As the filling is wider here, inherent weakness in the tooth is created.
- As silver fillings expand, their edges are susceptible to breaking off.
- Silver fillings can discolor the tooth and cannot be bleached.