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Understanding the Difference Between Composite and Amalgam Fillings

Understanding the Difference Between Composite and Amalgam Fillings

Dental fillings repair teeth and preserve oral health. A filling can smooth out any sharp edges and help you avoid worsening decay or infection. Composite and amalgam fillings are two common filling materials dentists use to maintain healthy teeth.

Our skilled experts at Hometown Family Dental Centers offer composite and amalgam fillings for cavity repair. We’ll guide you in selecting the optimal material for your mouth to keep teeth healthy and strong. Our dental experts fill cavities for patients of all ages at three convenient locations — Fayetteville, Vass, and Raeford, North Carolina. 

What does a filling do?

Our top priority at Hometown Family Dental Centers is tooth preservation. It’s typically better to fix a tooth than remove it. Before filling a cavity, your provider ensures the tooth is healthy and free of bacteria and decay. After cleaning out infection or bacteria from a tooth, the tooth’s cavity needs a filling to seal the hole in the tooth. 

A filling stabilizes the tooth to keep it healthy and safe from further infection or damage. The tooth filling also ensures pain relief so you can use the tooth normally for chewing again.

Should I get a composite or amalgam filling?

Composite and amalgam tooth fillings are both excellent choices for different reasons. Here are a few differences between the two types of fillings.

Composite fillings

Composite fillings match the color of your natural tooth, blending in discreetly, making it an increasingly common choice among patients. The composite material is a mixture of plastic resin and powdered glass, expanding and contracting little after hardening. 

Before filling a cavity with composite material, your dentist gently roughens up your tooth enamel and applies special glue. Then, we insert the soft composite compound into the tooth in layers and harden each layer with a curing lamp. Applying and curing each composite layer helps achieve a precisely fitting filling.

Our dentists often use a layered composite filling for larger cavities. Although this treatment is a bit more labor and time-intensive, we can complete the filling in one session.

Amalgam fillings

The oldest and probably best-known tooth filling is the amalgam filling. Amalgam is a metal mixture of silver, copper, tin, and liquid mercury. Amalgam fillings are also antibacterial, easy to care for, and adaptable to any tooth.

We often use amalgam fillings for more significant defects in the teeth on the sides of your mouth area. Because the side tooth area endures a high chewing force, it requires a highly durable filling, which the amalgam material is known for. 

Some patients feel that amalgam fillings are visually less appealing because they aren’t tooth-colored and can be more visible than a natural-colored composite filling. But amalgam fillings are a more affordable option for many, and they can last 10-15 years.

Is one material better than the other?

Composite and amalgam fillings are both durable and long-lasting. If you place great importance on aesthetics, consider an enamel-colored composite filling. If you seek a quick and affordable option, amalgam might be your best choice.

As always, our dental experts will help you decide which material is best to help you maintain excellent oral health. Our dedicated staff provides top-quality care in a soothing environment. Call us today at the location near you, or request an appointment online.

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