Many adults grew up with “silver” fillings when they had a cavity. Although these fillings are still an option, there are now other choices, such as tooth-colored fillings and materials that release fluoride to help protect your teeth from developing new cavities. Each of these choices has its pros and cons, but most importantly, you and your dentist have choices available when repairing a cavity.
Amalgam – Fixing Cavities
You may have seen silver, or amalgam, fillings. These fillings are a mixture of mercury, silver, tin, copper, and very small amounts of other metals. Usually amalgam fillings are used on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth because these fillings are very strong and can typically hold up without forming cracks when you chew. They also last longer than fillings made of other materials.
Some people wonder about amalgam fillings because they contain mercury. Many government agencies, professional groups, and national health associations agree that dental amalgam fillings are safe.
Resin Composites – Fixing Cavities
Resin composites are a tooth-colored material. They can be used when fixing cavities but are often used in front teeth because the color can be matched to the tooth being repaired. Although they seem to be able to handle chewing forces as well as amalgam without cracking, they do not usually last as long as silver fillings.
Small cavities can sometimes develop around the edges of a resin composite filing, which then may need to be replaced.
Also, resin composites need to be placed on a clean, dry surface, free from blood or saliva. For this reason, they might not be best for people who have trouble sitting still, like small children. However, resin composites have become more popular with older children and adults,probably because they usually look like real teeth.
You and your dentist can talk about the options that can best meet your needs when fixing cavities. The best choice may depend on your individual situation, such as which tooth has the cavity and how long the treatment needs to last.
Give us a call to schedule your next dental visit today!