Need a Filling? What You Need to Know

When it comes to getting a filling for your tooth – metal fillings have long been the standard of care.  As technology has improved over the years, more and more people are getting (and more and more dentists are recommending) tooth-colored, or composite, fillings. So, why are dentists recommending tooth-colored fillings over the silver amalgam fillings?

Outside of the aesthetics of having a filling look more natural – there are a handful of reasons as to why dentists are in favor of the composite-colored fillings.

The Big Picture: Silver Amalgam vs. Composite Fillings

Although amalgam fillings are described as more durable (read: can take a harder hit) and can typically last longer than composite fillings, one of the issues with amalgam fillings is that they aren’t made to be like your natural teeth.

In order to properly place your filling, your dentist will have to remove more of your natural tooth structure than they would need to with a composite filling.

Thisadditional space is needed because silver amalgam fillings do not actually bond to your teeth, they are merely locked into place by the anatomy of your remaining tooth structure.  Because they are made of metal, silver amalgam fillings expand and contract as they comes in contact with hot or cold substances, which can result incracks in your natural tooth. Subsequently, these cracks can eventually lead to decay, tooth sensitivity, or tooth breakage. (Keep in mind: if you keep your regular dental checkups, your dentist will hopefully, be able to catch this before it actually occurs.)

As it’s best to leave as much natural tooth structure as possible while placing a filling, dentists lean more towards the composite fillings, which can adhere better to your tooth and avoid the expansion and contraction issue altogether.

Probably the biggest issue with silver amalgam is that if there is a problem with even the tiniest part of the filling, the whole filling has to be removed and replaced. On the other hand, if there’s a problem with a small area of a composite filling, that small part can be replaced without affecting the entire filling.

The main reason why dentists are still offering silver amalgam fillings is due to the costs associated with composite fillings. Many dental insurance plans lean towards providing more coverage for the silver amalgam fillings as they have been proven over the years in their effectiveness. As such, patients may choose which type of filling they would prefer based on personal preference or needs based on the amount of coverage their provider will provide.

If you have questions about your filling or your dental plan, contact us today. We’d be more than happy to talk to you about the different options available to you.

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