Dental amalgam fillings are a mixture of metals including liquid mercury and a powdered alloy composed of silver, tin, and copper. This mixture is used to fill cavities caused by tooth decay.
These “silver fillings” are placed after the dentist has removed the decay and the tooth is shaped for placement of the filling. Under carefully approved safety conditions, the dentist mixes the powdered alloy with the liquid mercury. This forms the amalgam putty. While the putty is soft, it is prepared in the cavity and then hardened into a solid filling.
Amalgam fillings are strong and long-lasting, as well as the least expensive type of filling. You and your dentist will make the decision together if amalgam fillings are the right choice for you.
Composite fillings are the clear alternative to traditional silver fillings. They address the problem of decay on a portion of any tooth, desire to replace old-fashioned mercury fillings, and the desire to maintain a white, beautiful smile.
After tooth decay is removed and cleaned, a tooth colored quartz-like composite filling is layered into the tooth. This material is hardened or cured with highly intense visible light, and the final surface is shaped and polished to match the tooth. The final result is virtually invisible.
Overall, composite fillings are just more attractive. They are also environmentally non-toxic unlike the old-fashioned mercury fillings. Composite fillings are stronger because they bond directly to the surface of the tooth and they protect the tooth from fracturing.