Dental Fillings: Amalgam and Composite Restorations

A filling is a restoration that is placed directly into a tooth to repair areas of cavities or other defects, or to replace older failing fillings.  Fillings are made of two materials – either amalgam or composite.

Dental Amalgam Fillings

Dental amalgam (metal or silver fillings) has been used for over a century.  It is very durable, wear resistant, and the least expensive filling material available.  Numerous studies have proven the safety of dental amalgam, and all U.S. and international scientific and health organizations (such as the U.S. Public Health Services, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, and the World Health Organization) are satisfied that amalgam is a safe and effective restorative material.  The main drawback to amalgam is the color or appearance.  There may also be some short term temperature sensitivity with amalgam fillings.

Composite Restorations “White Fillings”

Composite is a tooth colored filling material made of a plastic resin with glass or quartz filler particles.  It provides good durability for small to medium sized fillings and is used for both front and back teeth.  Composites are bonded or “glued” to the teeth, so the cavity preparations can sometimes be smaller than for amalgam.  Placing composite fillings requires excellent isolation to prevent contamination with moisture and take more time than placing amalgam fillings.  While not as economical as amalgam fillings, composites can provide a beautiful, durable restoration.  We will always discuss your options so you can decide what treatment is best for you.