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Amalgam vs Composite fillings.

Amalgam vs Composite fillings. What’s the difference?

Amalgam vs Composite Fillings
Picture showing an amalgam (silver) and composite filling. The top tooth was done using amalgam, the bottom tooth was done using a composite material.

Differences in amalgam vs composite fillings.

As you may have noticed from the picture above, there is one clear difference: amalgam fillings are, well, metal and because of this, dark in color, whereas composite fillings are tooth colored, and in fact, come in various shades to better blend with the tooth. Without getting too detailed, let’s go over what the two types of fillings are made of:

• Amalgam (or Silver) Filling – Dental amalgam is made up of nearly two equal parts: liquid mercury and a powder which contains silver, tin, copper, zinc and various other metals.  Amalgam is probably the most widely known filling type. Amalgam fillings have also been seen to expand and contract with temperature changes inside the mouth. When this occurs it can actually create micro-fractures in the tooth, and could, possibly, crack the tooth through.

• Composite Filling – Composite fillings are made up of a resin based plastic/glass material. The strength of these fillings is increasing as the formula is improved upon. Although less known, composite fillings are gaining in popularity. A composite filling can also make it possible to take a more conservative approach with removal of tooth structure as the composite itself can be bonded to the tooth, whereas an amalgam cannot. On average composite fillings also cost a bit more than amalgam fillings.

Aesthetics

When it comes to amalgam vs composite fillings, it is clear what the most aesthetic choice would be. If you go composite you have the choice of matching the shade of your tooth color, and have a seamless look to your filling. With an amalgam filling, when you talk, smile or laugh, those dark spots on your teeth stand out like a black bear in a blizzard. Composite fillings are also used to repair chips in someone’s front tooth. In fact, there was a patient that just came in recently with a slight gap that she wanted closed. In about an hour, with little to no prep work, she came out from the back with a completely closed gap, with no sign composite was put there at all. It’s just so seamless. Check it out:

Composite vs Amalgam Fillings
Before the composite filling.
Minovi Dental DC Patient After Composite Filling was Placed
After composite was placed.

There is a lot that can be done with composite materials. Because of the fact it does bond with the tooth itself, it provides for a seamless finish. Obviously, when comparing the aesthetics of both, there is only one real winner, at least in my personal opinion.

Functionality

Well, with amalgam vs composite fillings, functionality is pretty similar, in that, they both seal the cavity from further infection. Amalgam has had a very long stint of research connected with it. Composite materials are relatively new and have not been subject to the decades of research of it’s earlier counterpart. It has also been reported that composite filling material may be subject to staining just as a person’s tooth may be. Though, the dentist can also put a clear plastic coating over the material to help prevent wear and staining.

Who won?

Amalgam vs composite fillings…who won? Well, I’m pretty aesthetically inclined when it comes to my teeth (I have the veneers to prove it), so probably have a bias in favor of composite. But that’s just me. Some controversy has arisen on the amalgam front though, and there was the reclassification of dental amalgam by the FDA.

Amalgam fillings are less expensive than composite fillings, and they have been proven to last a long time, I’ll give them that.

I’ll let you decide which one you like the best, of course.

Stay healthy my friends!

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