Michelle H. Edwards, DDS, MSD

9885 E. 116th Street, Suite 100

Fishers, IN 46037

Composite Resin Fillings vs. Dental Amalgam Fillings

Over the history of dental work, scientists and dentists have experimented with a wide range of filling materials, including pure gold and even beeswax. However, two manmade materials have stood out as clear frontrunners: silver amalgam and tooth-colored composite resin. Each variety of filling material carries its own list of benefits and drawbacks, and it is ultimately up to the parent to decide which variety is best for their child with the help of a dentist. Here is more information about amalgam and composite resin filling material, along with a list of the benefits and drawbacks of each option.

 

Amalgam Fillings

Dental amalgam consists of an alloy of silver, tin, copper, and mercury. Used for over 150 years, dental amalgam is one of the most studied materials in modern dentistry, and it has been improved over the years to be safer and more durable than ever before.

Benefits of Amalgam Fillings

Economical

Amalgam is less expensive than other filling materials, with a basic one or two-surface filling starting at around $50 before insurance. Because of their low price, amalgam fillings are often used for children’s teeth, since aesthetics are less of a concern and baby teeth fall out by the time children are 12 anyway.

Durable

Another huge benefit of amalgam fillings is that they are incredibly durable. Research has shown that amalgam fillings have an average lifespan of 12.8 years, compared with the 7.8 years composite resin fillings last. However, with proper care and maintenance, amalgams have been shown to last as long as 20 years.

Less Sensitive to Moisture

Dental amalgam is easier for dentists to place because it is less sensitive to moisture.

Drawbacks of Amalgam Fillings

Dark Colored

Amalgam fillings are silver, but they tend to darken over time. Eventually, amalgam can look black, which resembles the original cavities they were meant to correct.

Tarnish and Stains

Amalgam material can leach out into the teeth, leaving behind “amalgam tattoos” that can make your child’s teeth look silvery gray.

Mercury Concerns

Although the American Dental Association has deemed amalgam fillings to be completely safe, some parents have concerns about the mercury present in amalgam fillings.

If your child needs a cavity filled, our pediatric dentist can help.

Composite Resin Fillings (Tooth-Colored)

Composite resin material is made up of ground white porcelain and durable resins. To place composite resin fillings, the decay is gently removed, the area is cleaned, and then the composite resin is piped into place. A tiny UV light is used to cure the filling immediately, leaving your child with a beautiful, natural looking smile.

Benefits of Composite Resin Fillings

Seamless Repair

Composite resin material is made up of ground white porcelain and durable resins. To place composite resin fillings, the decay is gently removed, the area is cleaned, and then the composite resin is piped into place. A tiny UV light is used to cure the filling immediately, leaving your child with a beautiful, natural looking smile.

Cure Instantly

Composite resin fillings cure instantly with a UV light, allowing the material to bond directly with your child’s tooth.

A Tighter Bond

Unlike amalgam fillings, which are held in place by the shape of the cavity, composite resins bond with the tooth itself. This means less wiggle room for decay to creep in, as well as a stronger tooth structure after the procedure.

Drawbacks of Composite Resin Fillings

Lifespan

Composite resin fillings have a shorter lifespan than traditional amalgam fillings, largely because they do not “self-seal” over time like amalgam fillings do.

May Require Multiple Visits

Some composite resin fillings need to be placed in layers, which might require additional trips to the dentist.

 

Deciding Between Filling Materials

After your child is diagnosed with dental caries, our clinicians will talk with you about each filling material to help you to decide which is best. Composite resin fillings are usually recommended from front teeth or areas that are highly visible, and amalgam might be recommended for back molars, which experience much more bite force. As your kid’s dentists in Indianapolis, we will also work hard to make sure that your child remains happy and comfortable throughout their dental exam and subsequent treatment. Contact Children's Dental Center for an appointment today!