At Burwood Family Dentist, we offer different types of dental filling materials.
There are 2 main types of direct restoration materials: Tooth coloured ones and Silver ones. We believe you should be given the choice of both types of materials. As with most materials all have both their advantages and disadvantages,. In most cases. we would offer our opinion onto what to use based on individual cases and let you make your own informed decision.
Tooth-coloured fillings (composite fillings)
They are the ones we mostly placed in our practice. Most people in our days prefer the tooth-coloured fillings ("white") fillings. The most widely used tooth-coloured direct material is called "composite resin" and often just referred as "composite" filling. Composite resin is a mixture of tooth-colored plastic and glass mixture. Composite resin restorations are highly aesthetic materials that allow them to be used both for front teeth and back teeth. Due to their adhesive and bonding properties to tooth structures, minimal drilling and more tooth conservation can be achieved. They are now strong and durable although they may be best for small to medium-sized fillings.
Silver fillings (dental "Amalgam" fillings)
They are less popular and also less used nowadays . We still offer this alternate option for our patients who prefer this material, mainly reserved for very large and deep restorations on some back teeth.
There were some popular press debate on the safety of almagam due to the mercury component. Despite all the publicity on this matter, the Australian Dental Association, the World Health Organisation, the International Dental Federation and many national and international health organisations have all agreed that dental amalgam as a dental filling material is safe and poses no health concerns. Dental amalgam has been studied and reviewed extensively. Amalgam restorations have not been found to be associated with adverse health effects. it has been used for over 150 years and it is strong, safe and long lasting.
Amalgam vs composite fillings: which one to choose (for direct restorations)?
There is no easy answer to this question. There are many issues and factors you need to consider :
Location of the cavity
If it is located on the facial front teeth, composite and tooth-coloured fillings will obviously be the choice of restoration. However it is right at the back then you can choose one or the other.
Many people do not like to have any silver or dark fillings in their mouth, no matter which area of the mouth the filling will be. Some others do not mind that much, for example if the filling in on the chewing surface of your upper back molar and no one will actually notice it.
For small to moderate-sized fillings , both composite and amalgam may have similar longevity. However for larger fillings. amalgam may be a better choice. Fracture is the most common cause of large composite filling failure, especially if exposed to excessive forces. On the other hand, with the higher demand in aesthetic, more research and development are concentrated on composite materials. Some recent studies have shown very promising results on composite fillings, which have comparable longevity as amalgam, on larger-sized fillings. More long-term studies will be needed on this topic as results can be varied.
Your risk and history of dental decay
"Recurrent caries" refer to secondary decay that develops between the existing fillings and the tooth surfaces. This occurs usually due to the tiny gap between the tooth and the filling where plaque can accumulate. In this regard, amalgam tend to be "self-sealing" compared to composite which tend to shrink back when hardened, resulting in more micro-gaps. So for people who have a high dental decay rate, this should be also taken into consideration.
Due to the nature of composite resin, it may take more time to place it in a moderate-large sized cavity. As a result, they tend to be little more expensive than the silver fillings although the difference is minor. We believe this should not be the main reason for your choice of restoration.
The above are some of the main issues to consider for your choice of dental filling materials in order to make an informed decision. Your dentist should be the one to seek advice on what is appropriate for you situation. Then you and your dentist together will decide which option is best for you. But in the end, it is still your choice.