Types of Dental Fillings

  Choose Composite or Amalgam Fillings?

dental fillings composite vs amalgam


Dental fillings are inevitable – but not all are alike!

Life only guarantees death, taxes – and dental fillings. So it is wise to know your options before your next cavity is filled.

Beamon Dental in Gulfport and most top dentists usually offer two types of fillings: composite and amalgam.

“Composite fillings are more popular and we place many more of that type nowadays,” said dentist Vernon Beamon, D.M.D., owner of Beamon Dental. “Composite fillings are tooth-colored, so patients prefer them. When patients laugh or speak, only white teeth show.”

Traditional amalgam fillings, which are silver-colored, have been used by dentist for more than a century, Dr. Beamon added. Both types of fillings have advantages and disadvantages in appearance, cost and longevity.

According to Dr. Beamon, the American Dental Association (ADA) and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA):

COMPOSITE FILLINGS, which are closely matched to your teeth’s color, are made of glass or quartz filler. They actually bond to teeth, so they also are versatile to repair chipped, broken or worn teeth. Another plus is they require dentists to remove less healthy tooth structure to prepare the composite filling area, compared to amalgam fillings

Composite fillings offer good durability and resistance to fracture in small or medium-sized fillings on front or back teeth. They cost more because they take more time; the filling area must be kept dry during placement, unlike with amalgams.

AMALGAM FILLINGS are made from a combination of metals that includes mercury, silver, tin, and copper. Their advantages are they are less expensive than composite fillings, last longer, can withstand more tooth pressure, and are easier for dentists to place. They are required for large cavities or those in back teeth, where there is more forceful chewing.

Less desirable aspects of amalgam fillings are that they show and create dark areas on teeth. Although The FDA considers the low level of mercury in dental amalgam safe for adults and children ages 6 and older, studies continue and some patients like to minimize the number of amalgam fillings they have.

“We are happy to consult with our patients about which type of filling is best for them. It is their choice,” Dr. Beamon said.

While composite fillings need to be replaced in about 7-to-10 years, amalgam fillings may last 15 years or more, various sources said. But composites do not expand over time, as amalgams do, so composites are less likely to contribute to tooth cracking.

Dental insurance does not always cover the cost of both types of fillings. Policies vary. For instance, policies may charge higher co-pays for composite fillings, or cover amalgam fillings and have patients pay additional costs for composite fillings, various insurance sources indicate.

According to the Summary of Benefits for Mississippi Medicaid 2017, Medicaid covers both types of fillings.

Prevention is the best medicine.

* Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.

* Floss daily.

* Eat a balanced diet.

* Have regular dental visits.