Amalgams vs composite fillings

A big white smile.

LIFESTYLE NEWS - Two types of materials are used to repair decayed or broken teeth: "plastic" material, and "non-plastic" material.
Plastic material means it is pliable when used and it hardens after the restoration has been done. The non-plastic material is usually made by a technician and cemented into or onto a tooth. Amalgams and composite fillings are both "plastic" fillings.
There are so many stories about how dangerous amalgam fillings are for your health, and how poisonous mercury is. There are numerous articles on the subject and millions spent on research, but still there is no scientific proof that amalgam fillings are dangerous.
Generally speaking it is not a good idea to replace good solid amalgam fillings just for the sake of it. Every time a filling is removed or replaced, natural tooth structure is evidently lost in the process. Only replace them if: the restoration needs replacement anyway, or if it has aesthetic advantage, or if you have a proven toxicity or sensitivity towards the metals.
Amalgam fillings last on average 20 to 50% longer than tooth coloured fillings. Preparation of the tooth for an amalgam filling is very important for its success, because the filling bonds mechanically inside the tooth to ensure that it stays in. Composite fillings bond both mechanically and chemically to the tooth, which makes it more operator sensitive and time consuming to do.
Where cavities are large, composite fillings are prone to break down quicker than amalgam due to their sensitivity to heat and cold changes, as well as wear down and can lead to tooth fractures, leaking fillings and secondary decay underneath existing fillings.
Composites require a moisture free environment during the filling procedure, which is sometimes very difficult to achieve. To summarise, it is not a good idea to have good amalgam fillings replaced if not needed.
Article compiled by Dr Herman Venter - Walk in Dentist
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