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Wondering what to choose for filling material, and how safe it is for you?

The team at Windsor Dental have done your homework for you and below is some advantages / disadvantages with the two commonly used materials.  Please note that composite filling material is predominately used in front teeth so this article relates to fillings that are required on the teeth used for chewing from the premolars to molars.

 Composite fillings (white/ tooth colour material)

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Conservative on the tooth structure, the minimum amount of existing tooth is removed in the preparation of the tooth for filling
  • Ideal for small cavities provided there is tooth enamel present for the material to bond with.
  • Pleasing to the eye because it is matched with the existing tooth colour
  • This material is set using a high intensity light so you are able to chew as soon as your anaesthesia has worn off
  • This filling material will wear and reduce in size over a shorter period of time
  • Needs replacing more often, guidelines suggest approximately every 5-8 years
  • Not ideal for large cavities
  • There is a higher risk of tooth sensitivity or allergic reaction to the nerve of the tooth, this is predominately temperature related
  • Can change the bacterial environment where the tooth and gums meet
  • Higher risk of secondary decay

Composite filling material is made up of resin polymer with filler particles of different sizes to improve material properties in relation to colour and longevity.  In the past there have been concerns that this material mimics female sex hormones which leach out over time, the study shows that this is not of any significance for patients.

Amalgam fillings (metal alloy powder mixed with mercury)

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Long lasting between 10 – 15 years
  • Lowest material cost and coupled with longevity proves to be a very cost effective option
  • Stronger especially in the back of the mouth where the greatest amount of force is used to chew food
  • Good for large restorations
  • Corrodes and discolours over a period of time
  • Can cause portions of the tooth to fracture off
  • Takes between 24 – 48 hours to set sufficiently to use in normal chewing function

Amalgam filling material is made by mixing mercury with a mixture of metal powder in an enclosed capsule. The most common objection to the use of this is the mercury content and it leaching out from the tooth and entering the blood stream.  Contrary to common belief liquid mercury has no toxic effect when swallowed! View study.

Please feel free to discuss with us what is the best solution for your situation.