An estimated 92 percent of American adults have had at least one cavity in a secondary tooth. For many, that means noticeable silver-colored amalgam fillings. Patients in the Phoenix area have a more natural-looking option with composite fillings.
About tooth colored fillings
Composite resin filling material is a blend of plastic and finely-powdered glass. The substance is color-matched to the shade of your teeth and has a light reflecting luster that looks like tooth enamel. Only a dentist can detect a well done composite filling. Composite is a conservative treatment. Less healthy tooth structure is removed, since the filling is bonded (rather than pressed) into place. It is generally completed in one visit, requiring about a half hour per treated tooth.
Amalgam has been in use since the 1800s because it is sturdy, and easy for the dentist to work with. However, current generation composite filling materials rival the strength and durability of amalgam, without the metallic color and without mercury. The price is comparable, and most insurance plans pay a significant portion of the cost.
To replace amalgam or not to replace . . . that is the question
An increasing number of people are choosing to have amalgam fillings replaced with metal-free restorations, but it is a personal choice.
Here are some points to consider if you are thinking about a silver-free smile:
- If an amalgam cracks or comes out, the filling must be replaced. There is no downside to switching to a white filling.
- It is not an “all or nothing” decision. You may decide to have just the most noticeable amalgams replaced, at least initially.
- Metal fillings transfer temperature. If you are experiencing problems with sensitivity, having fillings replaced with composite may improve or resolve the issue.
- Metal conducts heat and expands at a different rate than natural tooth structure. In some cases, this can contribute to cracked teeth.
- Composites reduce wear on opposing teeth, since hardness is similar to enamel.
At Life Smiles Dental Care, composite fillings come with a two-year limited warranty against chips, leakage, or cavities for patients who maintain hygiene visits. In the Phoenix area call (602) 786-5484.