Silver or amalgam fillings have been used by dentists to fill cavities for over 100 years. They are strong and long lasting, but they do have significant downside when compared to the newer dental development of composite, or tooth coloured fillings offered by Dr. Mahara at his Downtown dental clinic in Nanaimo, BC.
While there is mercury present in the silver filling material, called amalgam, in the past century there has been no evidence showing that silver fillings are harmful to patients. The main arguments against the use of silver fillings are about the way silver fillings wear over time and the esthetics of obtrusive metal fillings.
Depending on where the tooth to be filled is located in the mouth, the appearance of a silver filling may have more impact on your decision to go with composite. Having a dental filling anywhere in the smile line makes a silver filling much less attractive than a more natural-looking composite filling. Composite fillings can be made to match the tooth colour of surrounding teeth and are virtually invisible to an observer.
In regard to how silver fillings wear over time, like most metals, silver fillings will eventually corrode and even leak causing decay to occur underneath the fillings. There is also a slow expansion that amalgam undergoes which can fracture the tooth next to the filling and cause the need for a much larger filling, a crown or even extraction of the tooth if the fracture is deep enough.
The Top 4 Advantages of Composite Fillings
- Composite fillings are primarily a resin which has been “filled” with other inorganic materials. This compound makes a composite filling more resistant to wear, color adjustable, and easier to polish.
- The advantages of choosing a composite filling include a more natural appearance. Dentists can match the filling compound to the shade and colour of your enamel, allowing the filling to blend into your teeth. Your teeth are white—why shouldn’t your fillings be as well?
- Composite fillings often strengthen the filled tooth, and bonding the filling to the tooth creates a better seal. Improved bondage of the filling to the tooth provides better structural support and restores the strength of the tooth. This also allows the material to repair cracked and damaged teeth.
- A smaller hole is necessary to place a composite filling, allowing for more healthy tooth matter to be saved. Composite fillings can often be made smaller than a comparable silver filling as silver fillings that are too small are prone to breaking or falling out.