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What Are The Differences Between White and Amalgam Fillings?

image of dental mirror inside someone mouth

Cavities and chipped or disfigured teeth have an easy and quick solution in the form of dental fillings. After teeth have been treated and there’s a clean and non-infected surface to work with, dental fillings are applied (and cured) to prevent bacteria from entering and causing further damage to the teeth.

There are different kinds of fillings

There’s gold, porcelain, composite resin or tooth-colored filling, and amalgam. Among these options, the most popular choices are amalgam and white filling or composite resin. If you’re trying to decide which between the two is better for you, a trusted Vancouver dentist explains the differences below.

An amalgam filling is a mixture of silver, tin, zinc, copper and mercury, with mercury making up nearly 50 percent of the mixture. It’s what people in earlier times are most familiar with as it’s also the cheapest restorative material. The main advantage with this filling is that it’s incredibly durable; it can last for a decade or over, especially with proper maintenance. This filling is best used for molars or back teeth which are mainly responsible for chewing up food. Another nice advantage that comes with an amalgam filling is that it’s less sensitive to moisture during the filling process so the treatment can be completed much faster.

Now, the issues with amalgams (or silver fillings, as what a lot of folks call them) is that they do not match the color of your teeth, so that’s zero on aesthetic value. In addition to that, it can corrode and discolor over time (this is a health issue that worries many because corrosion of the filling meant that mercury, a toxic element, may be absorbed by the body and cause sickness). Plus, it doesn’t really become one with your tooth, and for this filling to be properly applied, dentists usually need to remove more of the tooth to create a secure hole for the filling.

Meanwhile, composite resin or white filling is a mix of plastic and fine glass particles. It is applied two ways: directly and indirectly. For direct fillings, the dentist makes use of blue light to harden the filling material. As for indirect fillings, the dentist prepares the tooth and takes an impression, which then will allow for the filling to be molded precisely and cover the cavity completely when it’s cemented into place. An indirect filling takes two sessions.

The main advantage with a white filling

The main advantage is that it matches the color of teeth, so it’s ideal for both back and front teeth. Likewise, it bonds directly to the teeth so it reinforces the structural strength of the teeth and it doesn’t really require the dentist to reshape teeth, so you get to preserve most of your teeth.

As for the downsides to this option, a white filling is more expensive than amalgam and the longest it lasts is slightly over five years with proper care. Some people say it’s not as impervious to chewing as amalgams. And lastly, it’s been pointed out that a white filling has the tendency to shrink and produce gaps between the teeth and filling, creating opportunity for cavities to develop.

Your choice will really depend on the value you want; is it a nice appearance of durability, economy, or preserving the structure of your teeth? Your answer to these questions will guide you to the best choice for you

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