The Advantages of Modern Fillings over Amalgam Fillings

September 1, 2021

When you have a cavity, or a chipped or cracked tooth, it’s important to get it filled as soon as possible to prevent yourself from losing the tooth. Dental fillings have been in use since the 1800s, but the technology has advanced significantly since then. Early fillings were made from dental amalgam, a mixture of about 50% mercury and an alloy of silver, tin, and copper. While amalgam fillings are still in use today, modern white composite fillings have become the new standard. At American Dental, we use white composite fillings in our practice for several reasons; here’s why we prefer to use them:

What is White Dental Composite?

White fillings are made from one of a number of synthetic resins. These materials are durable, similar in appearance to natural teeth, reasonably inexpensive, and simple to apply for a skilled dentist. Once applied, the resin hardens in just a few minutes, creating a filling that can last for years.

Are Modern Composite Fillings Better Than Amalgam Fillings?

The main reason most patients choose white fillings today is because they match the appearance and texture of natural teeth, unlike amalgam fillings that have the appearance of metal. Patients generally prefer that natural appearance, especially when restorative work must be performed on the front teeth. Of course, white fillings do have other advantages beyond just aesthetics.

There was a time when composite fillings were considered to be less durable than amalgam fillings. With the advancements made over the past 30 years, that is no longer true. A skilled dentist can apply a composite filling that will last just as long as an amalgam filling, and the restorative work actually bonds more thoroughly to the tooth surface, meaning it is less likely to fall out.

Because they bond better to the tooth, white composite fillings also seal the edges of the damage better than amalgam fillings. While an amalgam filling simply plugs up a hole, composite fillings actually seal the edges, preventing bacteria from getting to the tooth root. The composite material also provides structural support to damaged teeth, making them just as strong as they were before the damage occurred. 

Safety is another factor. Although the elemental mercury used in amalgam fillings is considered safe when mixed with other metals, the FDA cautions certain groups against them, mostly out of an abundance of caution. These groups include pregnant and nursing women, children under 6, people with pre-existing neurological disorders, people with impaired kidney function, and people with heightened sensitivity to mercury and the other components of dental amalgam. While the likelihood of mercury poisoning from dental amalgam is extremely low, using composite fillings eliminates that risk entirely.

Restorative Dentistry in the Chicago Area

Whether you have damaged a tooth or your dentist spots a cavity during your checkup, white composite fillings can repair the damage and restore your tooth to its normal function. If you live in the Chicago area, American Dental can provide restorative dentistry in Midway. Click the “Make an Appointment” Button to find out which one of our 7 locations works best for you and call or schedule an appointment online today. You can also contact us for general dentistry in Lincoln Square or any other services you need.

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