Amalgam vs. Composite Fillings

As a dental patient, you have a number of choices when receiving care from our office. When filling cavities, for instance, there are more than one type of filling from which to choose. The two primary options are amalgam fillings and resin composite fillings. Although our dental team will always offer our professional input and answer any questions you may have when determining a treatment plan, we want you to be educated regarding your options for if/when you need to receive such care.

Amalgam Fillings

An amalgam filling is better known as a silver filling. The amalgam is a mixture of tin, copper, mercury, and silver. Mercury is the prominent metal, making up as much as 50% of this compound, and it helps to bind the filling together to effectively fill the tooth. One of most significant benefits of an amalgam filling is its strength and durability over time. Other benefits of this type of filling are 1) how easily it fills a cavity, minimizing treatment time, and 2) the low cost of this type of filling, saving you money. One of the downfalls of amalgam fillings are that they are visibly silver. Because of this, they are most often used as fillings for teeth in the back of the mouth where it is less noticeable. As well, although the ADA maintains that dental amalgam fillings remains a safe, affordable, and durable cavity filling choice, some have developed concerns over the safety of the mercury compound within the body over time.

Resin Composite Fillings

Resin composite fillings are made from a compound of ceramic and plastic. These fillings differ from amalgam fillings in a number of ways, the first being that they are tooth-colored fillings in contrast to the silver amalgam fillings. This makes them an especially great choice for fillings in the front of the mouth. The downfall of resin composite fillings is that they are not as durable as their amalgam counterpart, making them less reliable for long-term durability (especially in the back of the mouth where teeth endure the greatest high-pressure grinding and chewing). As well, resin composite fillings require a very specific, dry environment within which to set. This translates to a more lengthy and pricier procedure when undergoing dental work. As well, not every dental insurance plan covers the cost of resin composite fillings.

The choice between amalgam and composite is not always clear. While many of our patients choose amalgam fillings due to their durability and low cost, we also have patients that choose resin composite fillings due to their cosmetic benefits as well as a potential health benefit. As your dental team, we honor and respect the choice of each of our patients and will work with you to make the decision that is best for you. We will help you take into account the type, size, and position of the cavity within your mouth as well as health, cost, and cosmetic concerns. Our dental team is here to help you make an educated decision to ensure you have the best treatment possible.

To set up an appointment, feel free to call our friendly office staff at 479.646.0706 or, for your convenience, fill out an appointment request here.