No one wants to hear those dreaded words from a dentist: “You have a cavity.” If you’ve been told recently that you need a filling, you might have a few questions about what’s going to happen. One of the main concerns you may have is, “What are you using to fill the cavity space?” This is a great question and the answer depends on your dentist. There are a couple of options available so knowing the differences in the two may help you understand the entire process better.
The word amalgam literally means a mixture or blend so it makes sense that amalgam fillings would be a mix of silver, tin, mercury, and copper. This is the traditional “silver” filling and continues to be one of the strongest, most manipulatable way to fill cavities. Amalgam fillings are especially great for back teeth because of their durability and dentists love how easy it is to work with.
Resin fillings are created from plastic and ceramic and more closely resemble a natural tooth color, making it a great choice for front teeth. Although they traditionally haven’t held up to the test of durability by the back teeth, recent advancements have made composite resin fillings much stronger.
The decision is really up to your dentist and many choose the amalgam filling for back teeth to ensure grinding and chewing doesn’t wear down the filling. Composite-resin fillings are more commonly used in teeth that are visible when smiling or talking and are great if you may be self-conscious about the filling. If you’re curious, ask your dentist before starting which one she plans to use.