Courtesy of recent technological advancements there is more options for dental patients today than ever before when it comes to filling cavities. Today there are many naturally-colored options that blend right in with your natural teeth available. Some are resin-based while others are still traditional fillings made of metal amalgam materials. The new materials are much more aesthetic looking and also much more durable so they will almost always last longer. These metals are even better when there are teeth in the back of the mouth receiving the most wear that need filled!
What Is a Dental Amalgam?
Dental amalgams are the silver fillings that used to be used on all teeth back before other materials that were more naturally-colored became available. Mercury is about 50% of the compound used in dental amalgams and the metals are bound together in a tight seal for tighter fits and a longer durability. Mercury still continues to be the only compound that can hold these fillings together well enough to be used in fillings for teeth yet allowing the material to be manipulated easily enough to fit into the tooth to fill a cavity.
Dentists will often prefer dental amalgams as they are easier to work with than their newer alternatives. These are also considered stronger than the amalgam’s resin-based counterparts. It is estimated that well over 1 billion amalgam-based filling are used annually in the dental industry.
What Are Resin-Composite Fillings? Resin composite fillings are made of ceramic compounds and are very close to the natural color of the surrounding teeth so the fillings look much less obvious. These have been used in teeth for years. When they first came out dentists often refused to use them for various reasons. Resins are often considered less durable than the amalgams as they are subject to heavy wear such as chewing and grinding they tend to wear much faster than their amalgam counterparts. The average lifespan of an amalgam is about 8-10 years but can last up to 20 years if taken appropriate care of.
Amalgams are one of the best substances to fill a tooth with when the dentist needs to fill areas that are difficult to keep dry like molars or cavities (back teeth) at the time line. Resin is harder to put on as the tooth must be completely dry for it to stick where it’s meant to and clinical experience still shows amalgams are the best for long-term durability and a long-term result for the filling.
Resin fillings are also much more expensive than the traditional amalgams such as that some insurances will pay for it some will not.
Resin is usually offered for front teeth and more amalgams are recommended for the bigger teeth such as the molars.
ADA & FDA Recommendations for Fillings:
Far as the ADA and FDA go in the recommending of fillings the dental amalgam has the 150-year track record of being the safest and most durable filling that is able to be offered by patients. The past 100-year study has proven that the level of mercury in the filling is low enough that it is not likely to affect the health of the patient it is being used upon.
Deciding which filling is the best for the patient is the decision made by the patient and the dentist. Check with your dental insurance to see if resin fillings are covered and if not realize how costly they may be to pay for out-of-pocket. The front teeth can usually use resin-based fillings where the back teeth such as molars will use amalgams but the decision ultimately comes down to what is best for the dentist and patient using the filling at that time.
If you have any questions or would like to learn more about us visit us here or call us 909-465-1016. The Ramona Dentistry Team “Where Family Comes First”