What’s the Difference Between Amalgam and Composite Fillings?

model showing different types of dental fillings

In the past, when you got a cavity, you’d receive a silvery amalgam filling. Now, though, Northside Dental in Springfield, MO, offers our patients natural-looking composite fillings. 

Related Post: Northside Dental Clinic and the Evolution of Dental Fillings

So, what’s the difference between amalgam fillings and composite fillings? It’s important to make informed decisions about your dental health, so we’ll explore the key differences between the two. 

Amalgam Fillings

Amalgam fillings, often called “silver fillings,” are composed of metals, including silver, tin, copper, and mercury. This blend of metals makes amalgam fillings exceptionally durable. 

Related Post: How Fillings Work to Protect Your Teeth

Here are some key characteristics of amalgam fillings.

Durability: Amalgam fillings are renowned for their long-lasting performance. They can withstand the pressures of chewing and grinding.

Strength: Amalgam fillings are known for their strength and resistance to wear, making them suitable for patients with extensive cavities or those who clench or grind their teeth.

However, it’s important to note that there are some downsides to amalgam fillings.

Aesthetic concerns: One of the drawbacks of amalgam fillings is their appearance. Their silver color can draw attention, especially on front teeth, and may not be suitable for patients who desire a more natural look.

Mercury content: Amalgam fillings contain a small amount of mercury, which has raised concerns about potential health risks. Consider alternative options if you have allergies or sensitivities to mercury.

Dentists rarely use amalgam filling now, but some adults might still have amalgam filling.

Composite Fillings

Composite fillings, often called “tooth-colored fillings,” are popular due to their aesthetic appeal and versatility. They are composed of a mixture of plastic resin and finely ground glass particles, which can be shade-matched to your natural tooth color.

 Here are some key characteristics of composite fillings.

Aesthetic benefits: Composite fillings blend seamlessly with natural teeth, making them indistinguishable. They are an excellent choice for front teeth and areas where appearance is a top concern.

Minimal tooth removal: Unlike amalgam fillings, composite fillings require minimal removal of healthy tooth structure. This less invasive approach preserves more of your natural tooth.

Bonding capabilities: Composite fillings bond directly to the tooth, strengthening the tooth and reducing the risk of fractures.

Mercury-free: Composite fillings are mercury-free, alleviating concerns about mercury exposure.

While composite fillings offer several advantages, they also come with some limitations.  Composite fillings can sometimes be more expensive than amalgam fillings due to the higher material cost and the additional time required for placement.

At Northside Dental Clinic, we offer honest pricing and estimates while making the procedure as comfortable as possible. 

Choosing the Right Filling Material

With a better understanding of the differences between amalgam and composite fillings, let’s discuss what to consider when choosing the right filling material. 

A dentist will consider several factors when making this decision, including:

Location of the cavity: If the cavity is in a noticeable area, such as a front tooth, a composite filling may be the preferred choice to maintain a natural appearance. 

Aesthetic preferences: If you want a natural-looking smile and a filling that blends seamlessly with your teeth, composite fillings are the way to go. 

Allergies or sensitivities: If you have known allergies or sensitivities to mercury or other metals, it’s essential to discuss this with your dentist to determine the safest option for you.

According to the FDA, you should especially steer clear of amalgam fillings if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, nursing, have a neurological disease, or have impaired kidney function. Children, especially younger ones, should also not receive amalgam fillings.  

Get a Composite Filling at Northside Dental Clinic 

Ultimately, the decision for your filling should be made with your dentist, considering your specific needs.

Schedule an appointment or call (417) 862-2468 to discuss your options for a healthier, more confident smile.