Cavities—also known as tooth decay and dental caries—are one of the most common dental health conditions, making dental fillings one of the most known restorative dental procedures. Over the past decade, dental fillings have evolved from amalgam to composite resin and silver to white. Today, Fresno dentists Dr. Claudia Denes and Dr. Alex Denes want to discuss the differences between these two very different types of restorations.
What are Amalgam Fillings?
Most adults who had fillings placed when they were younger have amalgam dental fillings. Take a look at your filling in the mirror. Is it silver or dark in color? If so, you have a traditional amalgam dental filling.
Amalgam fillings are made of a combination of mercury, silver, tin, copper, and other trace metals. Years ago, amalgam fillings were the standard for restoring strength and health to a tooth that had been damaged by decay because of its ease of application, low cost, and level of durability. So, what changed and caused amalgam fillings to lose this reputation?
In recent years, the mercury content in amalgam fillings has been under debate by dental and other medical professionals. Over time—as a result of the extreme wear and tear our teeth endure each day—amalgam fillings have been known to break down, putting the tooth underneath in danger and possibly releasing harmful mercury into the patient’s bloodstream. To protect their patients, many dentists now offer non-mercury amalgam dental fillings.
What are Composite Resin Fillings?
Composite resin fillings—also called white fillings, tooth-colored fillings, and metal-free fillings—have taken the place of amalgam fillings in the world of restorative dentistry. These fillings—made from a tooth-colored, putty-like substance—not only restore health and durability to a tooth that has been damaged by decay or injury, but also maintain the integrity of an all-white smile. The safety and natural appearance of composite resin fillings make them an attractive restorative dental option for most patients.