As society places more focus on the way an individual looks, and beauty becomes a highly treasured commodity, researchers have worked for years to come up with an alternative to traditional amalgam fillings. With the use of new technology, many dentists now offer the option of a composite resin filling, more commonly known as a white filling. Although it may seem like an easy choice when you’re considering a silver filling versus a filling the color of your natural teeth, both options have advantages and disadvantages that the everyday Canadian may not be familiar with.
Traditional amalgam fillings are predicted to last somewhere between 8-10 years, although some have been reported to have stood the test of time for closer to twenty. More information is currently available about the durability of amalgam fillings than the newer composite fillings, simply because they’ve been in use for a longer period of time.
Amalgam fillings are also beneficial because of the ease with which they are manipulated, and dentists will typically use these fillings in places where the teeth are required to be stronger, such as the back of the mouth where most chewing takes place.
Amalgam fillings are also less expensive, and make it easy for a dentist to fill a cavity quickly to avoid further decay and damage. The major downside of the traditional filling material is simple – the color. Fewer patients prefer silver fillings in the front of their mouth, and some insist that any filling be made from a natural color. This is the point where composite materials come into play.
The most obvious benefit of white fillings is simply the filling’s ability to match the color of the natural teeth. Because they are typically a natural color, white fillings have been used by dentists to fill cavities on front teeth for years.
The majority of patients today prefer the benefits of white fillings on anterior and posterior teeth. The white filling materials and techniques have improved and are lasting longer than ever provided they are placed with meticulous technique. They do however still not assure the longevity of silver filings for many patient’s situations.
One downside to white fillings is the cost. Composites are typically more expensive than amalgam, and aren’t covered by some insurance plans. Some insurance plans will only offer white filling coverage in a tooth that is visible in a smile.
When choosing between white fillings and amalgam fillings, the most important factor is where the affected tooth is located in the mouth. White fillings work best for teeth that are more visible and are used less for chewing, while amalgam fillings may hold up better in the back of the mouth on teeth that are constantly being strained. Patients should always consult with their dentist before making a final choice.