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Amalgam Fillings vs. Composite Fillings

Orthodontist Dental Manhattan Beach

Nowadays, dentists have a wide variety of filling materials to choose from. This includes traditional metal amalgam fillings and resin-based tooth-colored materials, such as composite fillings. Newer materials have a more aesthetic outlook because they match the color of your natural teeth but don’t beat traditional fillings, which have strong, less expensive and durable properties.

Amalgam Fillings

Amalgams fillings contain silver, copper, tin, and mercury. 50% of the compound is made of mercury, which makes the filling durable, hard and strong. After so many years, mercury still remains the main ingredient to bind the metals together and makes the filling easier to manipulate into the cavity. Amalgam fillings are preferred by the dentists because it is easy to use rather than other alternative materials. Compared to resin-based composite fillings, amalgams are stronger and more durable. Patients usually prefer amalgams because they are cheaper and the visit is shorter than getting a composite filling.


Macro of a tooth with amalgam filling

Composite Resin Fillings

Resin composites contain plastic and ceramic compounds. Resin composite fillings look like a natural tooth and have different shades, which can perfectly match the natural tooth’s appearance. These fillings are being used mostly on the front teeth as they are more visual. When composite resins were first being produced, they were not used on the back teeth (molars) because the material wasn’t strong enough to withstand the chewing pressure and teeth grinding. However, the technology has improved throughout the past 10 years and now it is widely used in the posterior teeth also.


Example of a resin filling via GIPHY

Many dental insurance plans don’t cover the placement of resin composite fillings in the posterior teeth, where the filling is not visible.

All in all, dental amalgams are proven to be the most durable, safe and least expensive materials to use in order to fill the cavities. It is patient’s and their dentist’s decision for which filling material to use, depending on the location, size, cost, cosmetic concerns and the medical history. Discuss all the available options with your doctor and choose the most suitable filling material for your case.

Visit us at Ocean View Dental Group at (310) 372-8188 and set up your consultation with our highly-qualified dentists. They will offer you the best treatment plan that is possible for your individual case. 

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