When you visit your dentist, you trust that the care provided to you is such that you will obtain the outcome you desire. There is no denying that, over the years, the methods of performing many different tasks changes. Dentistry is no different. Long ago and not so far away, cavities were repaired with gold that had been melted down to form a filling. At some point, this option proved too costly, and dental scientists developed a more affordable option, dental amalgam. And so it began, the longstanding use of the “silver filling.”
Amalgam fillings were introduced to the United States in 1830. So you don’t have to do the math, we will state that that was 187 years ago. That is a long time for a method not to change! Also, so you don’t have to do the thinking, we will state that there is the good reason for the dwindling use of dental amalgam. As an alternative to this method, most patients today choose cavity repair with tooth-colored fillings. Here are some reasons why the new and improved method is important to your smile:
- Dental amalgam contains metal. We won’t even go into the controversial topic of mercury in these fillings. The metal is important enough for now. What happens to metal, when heated, is that it expands. When it cools, it shrinks. That fact alone points to the potential adverse effects of an amalgam filling.
- Tooth-colored fillings are produced with tiny particles of glass and plastic. Glass and plastic, unlike metal, do not expand and contract to a noticeable degree once the object has been shaped. That means a composite filling is more structurally sound in the long run.
- Unlike amalgam fillings, composites are chemically bonded to the tooth. This method creates tighter, more secure margins and it also makes the treatment as a whole more conservative due to the minimal preparation needed.
- The curing process is shorter for composites due to the reaction of this material under a light. Amalgam fillings take some time to harden fully, which inhibits patients from eating soon after their restoration is placed.