Fillings are one of the most common restoration procedures performed in the dental office. They are used to repair cavities, rendering the tooth usable after decayed material has been removed. Although fillings at one time were made exclusively of metal amalgam, today’s dentist also offer composite, or tooth-colored fillings.
Basics Of Fillings
Almost all of us will get a cavity at some time in our lives. The most common treatment for a cavity is a filling. To treat the decayed tooth, the dentist removes the portion of the tooth that has decayed, then fill in the empty space with either a metal amalgam or a tooth-colored, composite filling.
The procedure for both types of fillings is very similar. A major difference is that most composite fillings are “cured” with a special light that makes them hard and durable. Metal amalgam does not require this additional step. Which type of filling you choose depends upon your preference as well as your dentist’s recommendation. Both are very effective treatments and will ensure your teeth remain strong and functional for many years.
Differences Between Composite & Amalgam Fillings
The major difference between composite and amalgam fillings is the material used. Dental amalgam is a blend of several metals, including mercury and silver. It has been used reliably to fill teeth in the US since the nineteenth century. Records of a similar amalgam of mercury, silver, and tin are even mentioned in Chinese medical texts as far back as the first century.
Starting in the 1990s, advances in dentistry produced new options for filling teeth. One of the most popular of these is composite fillings. The material used for composite fillings is also a mixture of polymers that can adhere to the tooth surface and are hardened with a blue light. Many people prefer this type of filling because it does not contain mercury. Also, because it is tooth-colored, it is not easily discernible. Composite resins are strong enough to withstand pressures from the back teeth, and generally last ten years or more, making them a practical, comfortable, and attractive alternative to metal amalgam.
For more information about fillings, contact our dental office at 214-821-8639 today.