Teeth that have cavities not only need the infection removed, but also need to be restored with a filling material. This material must be strong enough to withstand chewing forces, flexible to not cause the tooth around it to break during function, and resistant to reinfection underneath the restoration. The material is used to restore the tooth to its full form and function after removal of decay. Depending on the tooth, your history, and your susceptibility for reinfection, we will recommend a particular type of filling. In general, we are able to place any type of filling on any tooth, assuming conditions are correct, but we will always recommend what is best for you.
Amalgam has been a filling material of choice since the 1800s. They are consistently strong, reliable, and long lasting under forces. For these reasons, we tend to recommend amalgam material for larger cavities and those teeth that are towards the back, where esthetics is not as critical and chewing forces are higher.
The material is primarily made of the elements mercury, silver, copper, and tin, and has a proven tract record of durability. Some patients have amalgam restorations that were placed in their childhoods, around 30 years ago. It is the most affordable permanent filling material available.
Despite negative rumors about silver restorations, there is currently no evidence that this type of restoration is harmful to patient health, and the ADA, FDA, and World Health Organization, and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention all agree that this type of restoration is safe, based off of scientific research. Read more about amalgam restorations by clicking here.
Composite, or resin restorations are more natural-looking, tooth colored fillings. Over the years, this material has improved to be very strong, but they are not generally good for long term treatment of larger restorations. This type of filling is generally recommended for small or medium sized cavities towards the front of the mouth.
This material tends to de-bond from the natural tooth structure over time, and may require replacement periodically, making it a more expensive restoration due to replacement intervals. Patients usually like this type of restoration if they are very conscious of their aesthetics.
This type of material is more technique sensitive and takes longer to place, making it a more expensive restoration.
Click here to learn more about composite restorations.