If you have not had a dental filling in few years, you may not be aware that you have a choice when it comes to the type of filling material your dentist uses. For generations, the dental filling material of choice has been silver colored amalgam but today, many dental patients are choosing tooth colored composite fillings instead.
Composite fillings are not appropriate for all types of tooth restorations. For example, if the tooth has extensive decay and requires a very large filling, amalgam may be a better choice. However, when a composite filling is an appropriate alternative, it can be an excellent choice.
The most obvious advantage of composite fillings is that they are tooth colored instead of silver. This is especially important if the filling is on the face of one of your teeth and will show when you smile. In addition to the aesthetic appeal, composite fillings have addition advantages.
Amalgam fillings are held in place primarily through friction. The filing material is wedged into the tooth and the pressure of the filling material against the sides of the cavity keeps it in place. This pressure can cause the tooth to crack.
Instead of pressure, composite filling are held in place with cement. A composite filling is cemented in place and does not exert any potentially damaging pressure on the tooth. In addition, your dentist does not have to remove as much healthy tooth material to provide a good fit for a composite filling.
The main drawbacks to composite fillings are cost and durability. A composite filling is a little more expensive than an amalgam filling and have not proven as durable. However, the cost differential is not large and the durability of composite fillings has improved in recent years. They may soon match amalgam fillings in terms of durability at a modest cost premium.
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