Although their existence was the subject of much discussion until recently, tooth colored fillings have actually been in existence since the 1950's. The materials used back then were self-cured particles with only a few color choices, and these fillings were rarely used anywhere except in the anterior part of the mouth as they didn’t accurately match the natural tooth color. In the 1970’s, visible light-cured particles came about, and these smaller particles were more lifelike than their predecessors. The tooth-colored filling began to replace amalgam fillings.
Amalgam Dental Fillings
Amalgam fillings are crafted from a number of metals. Like a dental crown or other restoration, amalgam fillings are shaped outside the mouth and bonded into position using dental-grade cement. In order for the amalgams to be accurately fitted into position, some healthy dental structure will need to be removed. The layer of cement between the filling and tooth enamel is likely to break down over time, and the metal is sensitive to changes in temperature causing it to shift within the tooth. Over time, amalgam fillings need to be replaced, and typically, it’s necessary to invest in a more complex restoration like a dental crown.
Composite Resin Fillings
Now, color-stable composite resin materials are widely accepted as the standard in dentistry, and are placed anywhere within a patient’s mouth. Very few patients desire dark silver mercury fillings when tooth-colored fillings are natural, esthetic, and a better choice for your dental health. Composite resin fillings are also easier and more cost effective to place. The putty-like material is shaped into position within the damaged tooth allowing for maximal retention of healthy dental structure. Once the filling material is accurately placed, we’ll use a curing light to harden the filling into place. Because composite resin is directly bonded to the tooth enamel, there is not an unnecessary layer of material that may breakdown over time, and composite resin does not expand and contract with changes in temperature the way that amalgams do. While composite resin is not as strong as amalgam, because it strengthens the tooth’s natural structure, tooth-colored fillings may actually last longer than amalgams.
Tooth-colored fillings are:
- Accepted as the standard in modern dentistry
- Better choice for your dental health
- More natural and esthetically pleasing than silver fillings
- More conservative, as they require less tooth reduction than other filling methods
- Create stronger bonds with tooth enamel as they are directly shaped and fitted into place