Composite fillings became mainstream around 1995 and have grown in popularity for a number of reasons. Perhaps you need a filling and are unsure what the differences are between composite and amalgam fillings or you have an old amalgam filling that needs replacing? Below, we outline why composite fillings are favourable when having or replacing a filling.
Composite fillings have a longer lifespan than their amalgam counterparts
Composite fillings are bonded to your teeth, unlike amalgam fillings which are packed into an area of the tooth, a bit like filling in a pothole – the latter have a lifespan of around 10 years. Eventually, these fillings will start to wear away, exposing areas where bacteria is able to settle in and cause tooth decay – you may not even be able to identify it until it is severe. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to have your old fillings checked regularly to find out if they need replacing.
Amalgam fillings react to temperature changes
Metal contracts and expands with temperature changes. As amalgam fillings are made up of 50% mercury (a metal used in thermometers) they adjust to temperature. If you drink a hot drink such as tea, the amalgam filling will expand, placing extra strain on your tooth and potentially resulting in fractures and cracks. Similarly, when you eat something cold the filling contracts, creating a gap around the filling and your tooth. Such on-going contractions will eventually weaken your tooth.
Composite fillings strengthen your tooth
As mentioned above, amalgam fillings work a little like filling a pothole, which means the filling is not bonded to the tooth. In contrast, composite fillings fill the cavity and are designed to bond directly to your tooth. This means the filling and the tooth work together rather than against one another. When a tooth with an amalgam filling gives under force, the amalgam does not, creating an irregular distribution of force that can damage the non-filling areas of your tooth.
Composite fillings are aesthetic
Amalgam fillings are notoriously conspicuous and many people feel conscious about opening their mouth to smile for fear of other people seeing their fillings. Composite fillings are tooth-coloured and created to match the shade of your existing teeth, so you can feel confident when eating and speaking in front of others.
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