Written by: Kavitha Gnanasegaram
If you’re like me, maybe you grew up with an overwhelming sweet tooth. If so, you’ve probably had your share of cavities growing up. Cavities refer to structural damage on the teeth. They usually occur due to a culmination of bacteria, acid, food pieces, and saliva, which, if not removed can result in tooth decay.
You’re starting to feel that tooth ache set in, a classic sign of cavity formation. So, you go to visit your dentist to have it filled in. Perhaps you’ve noticed your dental practitioner transitioning from the silver filling to a white one. Today, two main types of fillings are being used in the dental clinic: composite and amalgam fillings. Composite fillings are often used in most cases by many dentists, but occasions can arise where amalgam fillings are used.
Here’s a basic comparison of the two to understand more:
|Composite, the “white filling”||Amalgam, the “silver filling”|
|What is it? A resin filling, usually made from silica and a photo initiator (the filling hardens by light).||What is it? A mixed metal filling, mostly consisting of mercury, and a powdered alloy of silver, copper, and tin.
|Here’s the process:
1. Your dentist drills the tooth to remove the decay.
2. Glue (or bonding material) is laid on the inside of the hole.
3. Composite resin is put into the hole a layer at a time. Each layer hardens with the use of a dental curing light which is help over the tooth for several seconds.
4. After all the layers have set and hardened, the filling is shaped so it looks and feels natural.
|Here’s the process:
1. Your dentist drills the tooth to remove the decay and shapes the hole to place the amalgam filling.
2. The dentist prepares the amalgam filling by combining all the components and forming a putty.
3. The putty is shaped and prepared in the hole, where it rapidly hardens.
|Pros: Highly esthetic (looks like tooth natural colour); bonded material providing better seal at margins; easier to repair
|Pros: Slightly cheaper than composite fillings; less moisture for sensitive placement scenarios (used in difficult situations: below gum line, in elderly or children)|
|Cons: Cannot be placed where moisture control is difficult; slightly more expensive than amalgam fillings.||Cons: Risk of undetected cavities forming underneath the filling; non-esthetic; high incidence of tooth fracture after many years|
Remember, the best filling is no filling at all.
1) Keep your mouth clean!
2) Check your mouth regularly for signs of gum disease and oral cancer. Keep an eye out for:
3) Maintain a healthy diet, since eating a nutritious meal helps strengthen teeth and gums.
4) Visit a dentist regularly.
5) Don’t smoke or chew tobacco. Tobacco is linked to a variety of cancers including oral cancer, heart disease, and gum disease.