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  • Writer's pictureKelly White

The Difference Between Dental Amalgams and Composite Resins

Treating dental cavities has come a long way over the past few decades. Dental fillings are one of the most common treatments for cavities, and there are two main types of fillings: dental amalgams (silver fillings) and composite resins (tooth-colored fillings). Each type of filling has its pros and cons, and your dentist can help you choose the best option for your unique situation.

Dental amalgams have been in use for over 150 years and have been found in the mouths of millions of people worldwide. This type of filling is made by mixing elemental mercury with an alloy composed of copper, silver, and tin. While amalgams are long-lasting and cost-effective, they may not be aesthetically pleasing and some people have concerns about the use of mercury. Mercury is used in its elemental form in dental amalgams, which is different from the form of mercury found in fish and is not absorbed by the body in the same way. However, some patients may have an adverse reaction to the mercury, although this is rare.

Composite resins are a newer type of filling that are made of a tooth-colored plastic and glass mixture. They can be tinted to match a patient’s natural enamel, and are therefore more aesthetically pleasing than amalgams. A dentist will prepare the tooth in the same way as with dental amalgams but install the composite resin filling in layers, using a specialized light to harden it. Composite resins also bond with the tooth and support its natural structure. However, they are more expensive than dental amalgams, and some patients may experience tooth sensitivity with composite resin fillings.

It's important to note that the overall performance and safety of the different options for repairing cavities may depend on a patient's unique dental history and considerations. Your dentist can help you make the best decision for your individual situation. At Dental Associates of West Michigan, we encourage patients to discuss any concerns they may have about their dental health, and we are here to help you make the best decision for your dental health.

It's also important to note that it is generally not recommended to remove amalgams and replace them with composites unless the filling itself is compromised, as this would result in the loss of tooth structure and be worse for the patient's overall health.

In summary, while dental amalgams and composite resins are both effective ways to treat dental cavities, each type of filling has its own unique advantages and disadvantages. Talk to your dentist to determine the best option for your unique dental history and concerns. Let's work together to keep your smile healthy and happy!

Dental Associates of West Michigan

(616) 554-5940

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