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Tooth Fillings

Q. Which type of tooth filling is right for me?

A. Several factors influence the performance, durability, longevity and expense of dental restorations. These factors include: the components used in the filling material, where and how the filling is placed, the chewing load that the tooth will have to bear, and the length and number of visits needed to prepare the tooth. With so many choices, how do you know what’s right for you?


Amalgam fillings

Amalgam is durable, easy to use, highly wear-resistant and relatively inexpensive in comparison to other materials. For those reasons, it remains a valued treatment option for dentists and their patients.


While questions have arisen about the safety of dental amalgam relating to its mercury content, the major U.S. and international scientific and health bodies, including the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Food and Drug Administration, among others, have been satisfied that dental amalgam is a safe, reliable and effective restorative material.


Disadvantages of amalgam fillings include possible short-term sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures after the filling is placed. For many patients, the silver-colored filling is not as esthetically pleasing as one that is tooth-colored. And lastly, the dentist may need to remove more tooth structure to accommodate an amalgam filling.


Composite fillings

Composite fillings provide durability and resistance to fracture in small- to mid-size restorations that need to withstand moderate chewing pressure. Less tooth structure is removed when the dentist prepares the tooth, and this may result in a smaller, more conservative filling than that of an amalgam.


In teeth where chewing loads are high, composite fillings are moderately resistant to wear, but less so than amalgam fillings. The cost is moderate and depends on the size of the filling and the technique used by the dentist to place it in the prepared tooth. The time required to place a composite filling is usually longer than what is required for an amalgam filling.

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