As pediatric dentists, we receive many questions about the types of tooth fillings offered and particularly about the differences between the metal and tooth-colored options. This is a great question to ask your Houston Pediatric Dentist at your next appointment.
Dentists use these fillings after they have removed a cavity from a tooth and after cleaning up the spot of decay. Because a filling can stay in your mouth up to 50 years before it will need to be replaced, you will want to make a wise decision when choosing your next filling.
Dentists commonly use silver amalgam or composite fillings, which are the ones that are the color of a tooth. Below, we will discuss the numerous aspects of each of these to help you make the right choice for your needs.
Most metal fillings are made of silver amalgam. While they can last for decades, they can only be placed in teeth that have had a good amount of their structure removed.
- They are long-lasting.
- Silver amalgam fillings have been used for decades and last for many years.
- They are easy to use.
- These fillings can even be used successfully on wet teeth.
- They require more drilling.
- However, silver amalgam requires plenty of tooth to be drilled out to stick properly, which most dentists prefer not to do.
- They do not act like a natural tooth.
- Silver amalgam does not react to different temperatures the same way that the tooth does and may cause cracks in the tooth itself.
What about Mercury?
While many patients raise questions of the mercury in silver amalgam fillings, the American Dental Association states that very little of the mercury is left after placement. In fact, most of it is removed during the placement as it rises to the top of the tooth. The small amount left will be completely drilled into dust should the filling need to be removed. Therefore, the ADA states that silver amalgam is perfectly safe for use in the mouth.
The majority of patients today choose composite fillings, which can match the color of the tooth exactly.
- They are better for the teeth.
- Composite fillings actually bond to the tooth, allowing the dentist to drill out only the area of decay, saving the rest of the tooth structure. In addition, composite will not crack the tooth.
- They can be repaired.
- Should a problem arise with a composite filling, the dentist can repair and replace a small part of it rather than the whole filling.
- They can be difficult to place.
- The tooth must be completely dry to allow correct bonding of composite. They also take longer to place because of the increased number of steps.
- They are newer.
While most dentists and patients prefer composite to silver amalgam fillings, composite simply has not been around as long as the metal fillings have been. Despite this, most dentists believe that composite is as good as or better than amalgam fillings are because the composite material is constantly being improved.
Making the Right Choice
At Bunker Hill Pediatric Dentistry, we will be able to help you choose the right type of filling for your child. We will also be able to answer any questions and address any concerns you have at your appointment.
Be sure to head to your Houston dentist immediately if you believe one or more of your teeth have cavities. By seeking treatment early, you will have the most options for fillings.