Should You Get an Amalgam or Composite Filling?

Should You Get an Amalgam or Composite Filling?

Sep 29, 2015

It’s the sad truth: cavities happen. The National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research reports: “92% of adults 20 to 64 have had dental caries in their permanent teeth” and “26% of adults 20 to 64 have untreated decay.” Dr. Armstrong and our team will perform see you for biannual dental exams and cleanings to help you maintain your smile and teach you how to care for your teeth at home, but if you do get a cavity, we can help you restore your tooth. We offer both amalgam (made of a blend of metals) and composite (made from tooth-colored resin) fillings for decayed teeth. Both treatments offer distinct benefits and disadvantages. Take our quiz to find out if you should get an amalgam or composite filling to treat your caries.

Are you concerned about the appearance of your tooth?

Amalgam restorations have a shiny silver appearance, making them fairly noticeable within your mouth. If you opt for a composite filling, Dr. Armstrong will match it to the exact shade of your existing teeth so that it blends in for a realistic, cosmetic look.

How long do you want your filling to last?

The beauty of composite fillings does come at a price. While amalgam restorations often last for over 15 years, composite fillings may require replacement within five to ten years. Amalgam fillings offer a sturdier solution to decay. The durability of your restorations is especially important if you suffer from bruxism, since teeth grinding can wear down composite, further shortening its lifespan.

Is the decayed tooth visible when you smile?

Given the cosmetic benefits of composite, many patients prefer these restorations for their visible teeth, while they might opt for tougher amalgam fillings for the back of the mouth. Dental insurance carriers often reflect the same opinion—many will cover the cost of composite for the front eight teeth, but not the back molars.

Are you concerned about or sensitive to certain metals?

Some patients worry about the potential health effects of the mercury used in amalgam fillings. The Colgate Oral Care Center reports: “Millions of people have amalgam fillings. Concern has been raised over the mercury in amalgam. Many studies on the safety of amalgam fillings have been done. In 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) evaluated this research. It found no reason to limit the use of amalgam.” Research has indicated the safety of amalgam, but you may still want to avoid this material if you suffer from an allergy or intolerance to any of the metals used. For example, patients who are allergic to nickel should opt for composite over amalgam fillings.

Are you looking for a more affordable treatment option?

Amalgam fillings are typically less expensive than composite restorations, making them a more attractive option for patients on a budget.

Do you already have an amalgam filling?

Some patients who have amalgam fillings wish to replace them with composite. In these cases, Dr. Armstrong will make recommendations on an individual basis, depending on the nature of your concerns (cosmetic or medical), current condition of your restoration, and the state of your oral health.

We Can Help You Choose the Right Restoration For You

Dr. Armstrong and our team offer both amalgam and composite fillings to suit your unique needs and preferences. If you suffer from decay, contact our Houston-Westchase practice to find out more about fillings or schedule a consultation with Dr. Armstrong.

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