Cavities can occur at any age for a variety of reasons. Discovering decay as soon as possible, removing it, and filling the space with an appropriate material to protect your tooth from further damage is extremely important for the long-term health of your mouth and your body. Tooth decay is essentially a bacterial infection that eats away at your tooth. Allowing a cavity to get bigger only leads to larger and more expensive health problems. If you let the infection go on long enough, eventually the tooth will abscess and you may lose it altogether.
The good news is that all this can be prevented with a healthy diet, adequate home care, and regular dental care. But if you already have a cavity that needs a filling, the biggest choice you have to face is what to fill it with. When it comes to this particular dental process, you will find that you actually have quite a few choices. These various options bring with them a few pros and cons.
Listed below are the 2 most commonly used dental restorations.
Dental amalgam, also known as silver fillings, is a filling material that has been used by dentists for over 150 years. A mixture of metals that typically includes silver, copper, mercury and tin.
- Amalgam restorations are strong and can last 30 years or more.
- There are fewer steps to the process of an amalgam restorations, so the procedure takes less time.
- They cost less.
- After a restoration the tooth can be temperature sensitive for 6-8 weeks. Amalgam restorations tend to be less temperature sensitive.
- Amalgam restorations are silver, and therefore do not match the rest of your teeth.
- Silver can corrode or tarnish over time, causing discoloration of the filling.
- Some people have concerns about the mercury in the make-up of material. See ‘Amalgam fillings’ under the treatment tab.
- More of the tooth may have to be removed to create an undercut to lock the material in place.
Composite Resin, also known as white fillings, is a mixture of plastic and fine glass particles.
- Filling will match the color of the other teeth.
- The composite resin is chemically bonded to the tooth, so less of the tooth may have to be removed.
- Although composite resins have become stronger and more resistant to fracture over the years, they sometimes do not last as long as amalgam restorations.
- The procedure takes more time.
- Composite resin may shrink when placed, causing gaps between the tooth and the filling, which can lead to temperature sensitivity and potential decay where the material and tooth interface is compromised.
- Composite resin restorations cost more than amalgam restorations.
- Some dental insurances do not cover composite resin as well as they do amalgam restorations.