So you have a cavity that needs to be filled? You may be wondering what the best solution is for you. While there are several options, this typically boils down to the two most common choices, amalgam fillings, and resin composite fillings. Each choice has its pros and cons that should be carefully considered and discussed with your dentist.
Over the past 150 years, dentists have been using dental amalgams. These are commonly known as silver fillings. They are traditionally a combination of mercury, tin, silver, and copper. Some people may be concerned with the harmful effects of mercury, but it's chemical nature changes when combined with other metals rendering the mercury harmless. Nevertheless, the mercury debate persists to this day. Due to durability and longevity, these fillings have widely been proven as the right choice for cavities that occur in your posterior teeth (molars and premolars). They are by nature self-sealing making the application an easy process. However, metal fillings are also good thermal conductors, which results in hypersensitivity that can cause discomfort when chewing hot and cold foods. The metal does darken over time, and some patients may feel the look to be too unnatural and conspicuous.
Composite fillings are typically made up of ceramic and plastic compounds. They are used primarily for anterior teeth such as your canines and incisors. This is because composite fillings can be shaded to match the color of your teeth. They are often preferred to help maintain a natural looking smile, but they can darken over time. Thanks to technological advances over the last ten years or so, the use of composite fillings for posterior teeth has become more commonplace. However, this depends on a variety of factors, two of which traditionally being the location and size of the tooth decay. Composite fillings require the area of decay to be completely dry before application. If this cannot be achieved due to location, than a composite filling may not be the best option. The same goes for the size of decay, although recent studies have shown a minimal difference in bite strength resistance between composite and amalgam fillings.
Composite fillings are more expensive and labor intensive than amalgams. It depends on the circumstance, but sometimes they can cost up two or three times more. For this reason, most insurance companies don’t necessarily cover the full cost of a non-visible filling. In many cases, they will cover up to what an amalgam filling would cost, and the rest is paid out of pocket by the patient. Some patients prefer the natural look and believe the cost to be worth it.
Discuss with us which option is best for you. Contact us now at (530)272-5522 with any questions or concerns, and we’ll be happy to help you get on the right track to a healthier smile.
Pediatric Dentistry & Endodontics
453 South Auburn Street
Grass Valley, CA 95945-7224
Pediatric Dentistry: Lindsey A. Robinson, DDS
Endodontics Dentistry: Steve Murphy, DMD
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