Dental Fillings at
Route 66 Smiles
Family Dentistry

Dental fillings fall into two buckets: amalgam and composite resin. Up until recently, amalgam fillings have been widely considered the superior dental solution. Amalgam fillings typically last longer than comparable direct restorative materials, such as composite. On average, most amalgam restorations serve ten to twelve years, whereas resin-based composites last for approximately half that time. However, with recent improvements in composite material science and a better understanding of the technique-sensitivity of placement, the difference between amalgam and composite has shrunk significantly. Now, it’s common to select between the two filling types based primarily on aesthetic preferences.

A Brief Summary
of Amalgam Fillings

Dental amalgam has been a commonly used filling for the past 150 years, comprised of a mixture of mercury with at least one other metal. Amalgam has many advantages over other restorative materials, such as low cost, strength, durability, and bacteriostatic effects. It is relatively easy to use and manipulate during placement, remaining soft for a short time as Dr. Tate molds it to fit in the prepared area, setting it as a solid compound.

Which Dental Filling Material
Is right for you?

There are circumstances in which composite resin, or white fillings, serve better than amalgam. If more conservative preparation would be beneficial, composite resin fillings are the recommended restorative dental material. These situations would include small occlusal restorations, in which amalgam would require the removal of a more sound tooth structure and in “enamel sites beyond the height of contour.” The American Dental Association Council on Scientific Affairs has concluded that amalgam and composite materials are safe and effective for tooth restoration. Dr. Tate works one-on-one with all Route 66 Smiles patients to determine which filling material best suits their unique circumstances.

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The Differences Between Dental Fillings
Amalgam vs. Composite

& Appearance

The color of composite resin fillings closely resembles natural teeth. Dr. Tate and his team painstakingly consider and match teeth color to resin color until they find the best fit. On the other hand, amalgam, or metal, fillings have a silver appearance. Silver fillings may stand out more than resin but are less noticeable when used for teeth further back in the mouth.

& Durability

Silver amalgam fillings are incredibly durable compared to resin. Silver fillings can last upwards of ten to fifteen years. Composite resin is less robust than metal and usually lasts for five years—the strength and durability of either type of filling hinges on sound daily cleaning routines and filling locations. Front teeth do far less chewing than molars, causing back teeth to wear down more rapidly than front teeth.

& Procedure

Dr. Tate will use dental drills to remove any built-up plaque or decay before placing the fillings. Silver fillings don’t bond to teeth, requiring Dr. Tate to remove portions of the pre-existing tooth to ensure the fillings properly fit. Composite fillings bond directly to teeth, so preparing those teeth is significantly less intrusive. So, even though amalgam fillings are more durable, composite fillings don’t compromise your teeth’ natural strength as much during their respective preparation and procedure.

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