Metal Fillings and Limitations of Composites  

Metal Fillings and limitations of composites

At some point in most people’s lives, a restorative dental process will be needed, whether due to decay or damage to a tooth. The restorative process, patients most often need fillings. A filling is used to seal and fill in the area where decay has been removed to restore its appearance and strengthen and protect the truth. When it comes to fillings, composites are now the most commonly used, with more than 60% of fillings utilizing this material. While there are many reasons why patients and dentists may opt for composites, there are some limitations to this option that may make metal fillings or other options the better choice.

What Are Composite Fillings?

Composite fillings are made using a mixture of glass and plastic, most often acrylic, which makes a material that closely resembles your natural tooth. Your dentist will then bond the material to the tooth. The glass in the filing material helps give it a more natural appearance and makes the filling more durable.

What Are Metal Fillings?

Metal fillings, also known as amalgam fillings, are silver in appearance and made of an alloy which is at least two metals mixed together. At least half of the metal fillings will be silver, combining tin, copper, mercury, and silver.

Pros and Cons of Metal Fillings

Metal fillings come with several advantages, the most important one being durability. Amalgam fillings are designed to last a long time and are easy and quick to place. They are also less expensive than composite fillings.

There are some drawbacks to metal fillings as well. They are not as cosmetically pleasing and are not often used on the front teeth. They also can contract and expand in temperature fluctuations, which may cause them to fall out.

Pros of Composite Fillings

The main advantage of composite fillings for most people is that they can be more cosmetically pleasing, especially when needed in the front of your teeth. They also bond well to the tooth, which protects against further damage.

Drawbacks and Limitations of Composite Fillings

While there are many advantages to choosing a composite filling, there are some limitations and drawbacks associated with this option as well. One drawback to composite filling is its longevity. Though they can last for several years, the average life span seems to run from three to seven years. Metal fillings are designed to last much longer, so you will have to have your composite fillings repaired or replaced more often than metal ones.

Composite fillings can also be more affected by diet and lifestyle issues. Tobacco and alcohol use can contribute to the early failure of composite fillings, while they will not affect metal fillings. They are also more prone to staining, so drinking coffee and wine frequently can lead to discoloration.

Composite fillings are not always the best option for deep fillings. In some cases, filling deep fillings with composite material can result in higher sensitivity levels. A final drawback to composite fillings is the cost. On average, composite fillings cost about 30% to 40% more than metal fillings and may require additional out-of-pocket costs depending on your insurance company.

If you need fillings and want to know which option is best for your situation, the Hassey DoDuy Dental Associates team is here to help. Contact us today to learn more about our restorative processes or schedule your appointment.


Composite Fillings – Pros, Cons, Costs & Pictures
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Composite Fillings
Composite Fillings vs Metal Fillings

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