Cavities - Everybody has had the privilege of having at least one cavity in their life time. Even the ones that proudly claim “I’ve never had a cavity in my life". I guess theres always a first time. 

The demand for tooth coloured fillings is high. In my day to day practice I have a large number of patients who will come in with a request to change their old silver fillings for nicer looking tooth coloured or cosmetic fillings.

Heres a quick run down comparing the good old tried and tested silver fillings to the newer nicer looking tooth coloured fillings.

Are silver fillings bad?

Silver fillings have stood the test of time and been around for years. Even today I see a well done silver filling about 25 years old and going strong.

So what changed ?

Our understanding about the tooth and treatment methods have changed. Though there has been enough discussion and debating about mercury toxicity there is no substantial  evidence to prove that mercury actually causes toxicity .

Silver is a metal and temperature changes in the mouth can cause the metal to make the tooth sensitive. Furthermore, large silver fillings may make your natural tooth more prone to fracture and damage.  A greater amount of the natural tooth structure must be removed in order to prepare the tooth for the silver filling material. Lastly, the silver amalgam material is noticeable and not aesthetically appealing

Are silver fillings justified?

There are still a large number of dental practices that do only silver fillings. The only reason justifying silver fillings would be to bring down the cost of dental treatment since these are less expensive as they don’t need expensive tools or techniques,  and they probably are quicker .

Are tooth coloured fillings more superior?

Like I mentioned earlier, the amalgam fillings have stood the test of time and done really well for themselves. But advanced techniques and materials make silver fillings look like a thing from the past. Unlike silver fillings which need plenty of tooth preparation the tooth coloured fillings need only small bits of infected tooth to be removed and replaced with the filling. Most patients now opt to get white composite fillings instead of silver amalgam fillings due to their many benefits, including:

  • No health risks associated with the use of composite fillings
  • The biggest advantage being minimal amount of damage to the natural tooth
  •  Less post-treatment discomfort and sensitivity when composite materials are used instead of silver materials
  • The tooth-coloured material can be matched to blend in with surrounding teeth and look completely natural

Although most patients prefer composite fillings, there are some disadvantages that they should be aware of:

  • Tooth-coloured fillings are more expensive than silver fillings
  • The use of composite materials requires more skill on the part of the dentist; this results in higher prices and highlights the importance of choosing a skilled  and trained dentist  to perform the  procedure

Whats different about the tooth coloured filling?

  • The tooth coloured filling is bonded to the natural tooth structure to create a stronger, more aesthetic and natural looking filling
  • Tooth coloured fillings are synthetic resins very similar to the natural tooth as against amalgam which is a metal can cause long term  damage to the natural tooth

 In conclusion, your smile is in good hands with composite fillings. There are some great materials that give a near perfect match to the appearance of natural tooth enamel. Smile with confidence!