Used by dentists for more than a century, dental amalgam is the most thoroughly researched and tested restorative material among all those in use. It is durable, easy to use, highly resistant to wear and relatively inexpensive in comparison to other materials. For those reasons, it remains a valued treatment option for Ottawa family dentists and their patients.
Dental amalgam is a stable alloy made by combining elemental mercury, silver, tin and copper. Dental amalgam continues to be a safe, commonly used restorative material, some concern has been raised because of its mercury content. However, the mercury in amalgam combines with other metals to render it stable and safe for use in filling teeth.
Because amalgam fillings can withstand very high chewing loads, they are particularly useful for restoring molars in the back of the mouth where chewing load is greatest. They are also useful in areas where a cavity preparation is difficult to keep dry during the filling replacement, such as in deep fillings below the gum line. Amalgam fillings, like other filling materials, are considered biocompatible—they are well tolerated by patients with only rare occurrences of allergic response.
Disadvantages of amalgam include possible short-term sensitivity to hot or cold after the filling is placed. The silver-colored filling is not as natural looking as one that is tooth-colored. And to prepare the tooth, the dentist may need to remove more tooth structure to accommodate an amalgam filling than for other types of fillings
Composite fillings are a mixture of glass or quartz filler in a resin medium that produces a tooth-colored filling. They are sometimes referred to as composites or filled resins. Composite fillings provide good durability and resistance to fracture in small-to-mid size restorations that need to withstand moderate chewing pressure. Less tooth structure is removed when the dentist prepares the tooth, and this may result in a smaller filling than that of an amalgam. Composites can also be “bonded” or adhesively held in a cavity, often allowing the dentist to make a more conservative repair to the tooth.
The cost is moderate and depends on the size of the filling. Your Ottawa family dentist can inform you of the difference in cost between an amalgam and composite. It generally takes longer to place a composite filling than what is required for an amalgam filling. Composite fillings require a cavity that has to be kept clean and during filling and they are sometimes subject to stain and discoloration over time.
Gold alloys contain gold, copper and other metals that result in a strong, effective filling, crown or a bridge. They are primarily used for inlays, onlays, crowns and fixed bridges. They are highly resistant to corrosion and tarnishing.
Gold alloys exhibit high strength and toughness that resists fracture and wear. This allows the Ottawa family dentist to remove the least amount of healthy tooth structure when preparing the tooth for the restoration. Gold alloys are also gentle to opposing teeth and are well tolerated by patients. However, their metal colors do not look like natural teeth.