Composite fillings: Restoring the appearance of front teeth
Composite fillings are most widely used for front teeth because of their excellent appearance. They are made from a plastic resin and filler, and are bonded to the tooth. A range of shades is available so that the colour of your teeth can be matched very closely, making them almost impossible to see.
Composite fillings are also now commonly used for back teeth. Large composite fillings generally don’t last as long as amalgam, and they are more expensive, but this should be weighed up against their excellent appearance and any concerns you may have about mercury release. Composites are very effective if they involve only one or two surfaces of the tooth and are small in size.
Undergoing a composite filling procedure usually only requires one visit, in which the tooth is prepared and restored. In the treatment, a dentist will carefully apply an adhesive to the tooth, followed by thin layers of the tooth-coloured composite.
After treatment, patients may feel some sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures, but this should subside after some time.
Amalgams (Silver) Fillings
Amalgam fillings consist of a combination of metals, including silver, mercury, tin and copper. As tooth-coloured materials are increasingly used to restore teeth, amalgam is used less often than in the past. However, the newer materials may not be the best option in all instances, so your dentist will discuss which option may be best suited to your situation.
Advantages of amalgam fillings
• Lower cost - amalgam is less costly than other materials
• Better wear resistance - Especially in teeth that undergo a lot of pressure and wear from chewing, it may hold up better over time
• Longer lasting – the progress of decay around amalgam is often slower than newer composite filling materials