Dental Fillings: What’s the difference?

Fillings

If you’ve had a cavity before, chances are your dentist treated the decayed area of your tooth with a filling. Fillings are a common procedure that helps restore teeth back to normal functionality and shape.

Nowadays, there are many choices when it comes to types of dental fillings. Two very familiar types are amalgam and resin composite. Although dental amalgam has been trusted for more than a century, recent advancements in the industry have made resin composite more appealing. But there can be limitations with both.

So what’s the difference between the two and which one should you get? We’ll cover some basics to help you get familiar with these two popular types of fillings. Before your next appointment, we recommend discussing treatment options with your dentist first.

Amalgam
Also known as silver fillings, dental amalgam is made from mercury, silver, tin and copper. Dentists sometimes prefer this type of filling because it’s considered stronger than other types, more affordable, and easier to manipulate when filling cavities. Amalgam has been around for 150+ years and is still a top choice for hard to reach areas or cavities below the gum-line. Amalgam’s low maintenance and durability are appealing to both dentists and patients. It’s important to note that the American Dental Association (ADA) deems amalgam to be a safe, durable material that has been studied extensively.

Resin
Resin composite appears as a more natural, tooth colored material and is made of plastic and ceramic compounds. Even though it’s been around for years, it hasn’t been strong enough to withstand pressure and chewing on back teeth until the last decade. The lifespan of resin is still somewhat unknown, but is expected to last at least 8 to 10 years. Resin can be a bit tricky to place, as it requires a dry environment. Consequently, there are times resin won’t work to fill certain cavities. Resin also costs more, so sometimes it’s helpful to verify your benefit eligibility prior to receiving this service.

In summary, you and your dentist should discuss treatment options available, which may vary based on the size, location and cost. Ask your dentist to cover your choices to help you make the right decision.

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