Choose the Right Filling Material for You White or Silver? There are a variety of different materials that can be used for filling teeth. Amalgam fillings are more commonly known as silver or mercury fillings. They are made up of silver, tin, copper, zinc, and mercury. Composite resin fillings are more commonly known as white fillings, tooth-coloured fillings, and direct veneers. They are made up of very tiny pieces of silica surrounded by a plastic resin.
Amalgam Fillings. Amalgam fillings have been in use for over 180 years in the field of dentistry. When the metals in amalgam come together, they form a soft material that can be used to build your tooth back to its original form. After a few minutes, the amalgam begins to harden as the metals integrate together. Although pure mercury is toxic, the mercury found in amalgam fillings is locked inside when the filling hardens and is therefore not harmful. Many studies have shown that dental amalgam is a safe, time-tested filling material.
White fillings/ composite fillings. A white filling/composite filling is a tooth-coloured plastic and glass mixture used to restore decayed teeth. Composites are also used for cosmetic improvements of the smile by changing the colour of the teeth or reshaping disfigured teeth.
How is a composite placed? Following preparation, the dentist places the composite in layers, typically using a light specialized to harden each layer. When the process is finished, the dentist will shape the composite to fit the tooth. The dentist then polishes the composite to prevent staining and early wear.
What is the cost? Prices vary depending on the size of the filling so please ask your dentist for more information on prices.
What are the advantages of composites? Aesthetics are the main advantage of composites, since dentists can blend shades to create a colour nearly identical to that of the actual tooth. Composites bond to the tooth to support the remaining tooth structure, which helps to prevent breakage and insulate the tooth from excessive temperature changes.
What are the disadvantages? After receiving a composite, a patient may experience postoperative sensitivity. Also, the shade of the composite can change slightly if the patient drinks tea, coffee or other staining foods. The dentist can put a clear plastic coating over the composite to prevent the colour from changing if a patient is particularly concerned about tooth colour. Composites tend to wear out sooner than silver fillings in larger cavities, although they hold up as well in small cavities.
For more information on this procedure please ask your dentist.