Options for Replacing Amalgam Fillings

In decades past, patients had no alternatives for filling cavities other than amalgam, which leaves an unattractive blemish on the smile. Fortunately, dental technology has improved significantly in recent years, and patients have a number of filling options that have less of an impact on the smile’s appearance.

While amalgam, or silver, fillings may have met patients’ needs in their time, today’s patients demand a decay treatment that is more aesthetically pleasing. In many cases, patients are approaching dentists with a request to remove their existing amalgam fillings and replace them with a more attractive option. In response to patient desires, the best dentists in Plano can use several different tooth-colored materials in filling new cavities or replacing existing fillings.

One popular approach involves composite fillings. Dentists can use composite, which is made of a combination of resin and glass or quartz, in nearly the same fashion that they do amalgam. In addition to the aesthetic benefits they offer, composite fillings require dentists to remove a smaller amount of the biological tooth material. Composite fillings can withstand mild to moderate chewing forces.

Ionomers are also available for dentists to incorporate in cavity fillings. This mixture of acrylic and glass is also tooth-colored and translucent, but ionomers are not as strong as composite materials. Therefore, they should not be used in a tooth surface that faces significant stress from chewing. Ionomers are best suited for tooth surfaces that are not directly exposed to such forces, such as areas between the teeth.

Ceramic fillings, typically made of porcelain, appeal to some patients, as they are more stain-resistant than composites. Ceramic fillings also are very durable. Gold can also be used in cavity fillings, although it offers minimal improvement in appearance over amalgam fillings.

Regardless of which tooth filling material you choose, it’s important to be conscientious about scheduling your semiannual exams so that your Plano TX dentists can identify and repair minor tooth decay before it leads to major problems. When left untreated, tooth decay can progress to the point at which the tooth can’t be saved. It’s best to work to preserve as much of your natural teeth as possible.