Another method for cosmetic tooth restoration is composite. Composites are known as white or tooth-color restorative materials they have progressed so fast that if they been made by a reputable company and manufactured with the sensitive technique recommended by an experienced dentist they can be safely used instead of old amalgam restorations (silver materials).
Many restorations can be made with these materials in the anterior (frontal) and posterior (hind) teeth. The advantage of aesthetic restoration with these materials is not only their beautiful shape and color but also the less abrasive and restorative texture of these teeth. Plus they also strengthen the bond building because of the bonding to the tooth.
To fill and repair decayed teeth, patients usually ask which restorative material is better and lasts longer: Composite or amalgam? In this article, we will try to summarize the advantages and disadvantages of both methods.
In Persian, amalgam is equivalent to the word Mismatch, which means a mixture of several metals.
Usually, fifty percent of the weight of amalgam is Mercury, and the rest of it is a combination of silver, copper, and tin. These metals will be blended to form a stable composition that is well-strengthened to fill dental cavities. The resulting combination has unique new features that are different from each of its constituent elements. Amalgam has been used in dentistry for more than 180 years with its current formula. However, patients, especially in recent years, have always the question that, because of the toxicity of mercury metal, can amalgam application be dangerous to humans?
It must be said that many researchers in this area have shown that the use of amalgam in adults, children over the age of six, or even nursing mothers, does not harm their health in the short or long term.
This has been approved by accredited health agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Dental Association (ADA) and has approved amalgam as a safe substance in dentistry.
It is interesting to know that today due to the pollution of the seas and oceans, the risk of mercury absorption from certain seafood such as fish species threatens human health and the amount of mercury in the body through amalgam against these foods is very low and significant.
Advantages of using amalgam
The biggest advantage of amalgam is its durability and longevity.
For this reason, dentists have more tendency to use amalgam restorations for filling the grinding teeth, broad fillings, or people with severe tooth gnash and abrasion.
The average lifespan of amalgam fillings has been about five years, however, in various studies, many cases of amalgam fillings have been reported for decades.
Amalgam fills all the joints between itself and the tooth wall as well (Sealing properties) and for this reason, it blocks the penetration of caries and bacteria into the deep parts of the tooth.
Disadvantages of amalgam: The most important disadvantage of amalgam is its unpleasant appearance and color for patients.
Some patients prefer composite restoration because of the cosmetic problem, despite the dentist’s recommendation for dental amalgam restoration.
Another issue is the conductivity of amalgam as a metal alloy that transmits cold and heats better. As a result, some patients report more sensitivity when consuming cold foods and drinks, which usually disappears after some time (sometimes one to two months).
Amalgam restorations also require a larger amount of tooth cavity whittling for preparation, otherwise increasing treatment failure.
A dental composite is a paste consisting of a mixture of ceramics and plastic materials used to fill dental cavities and can fill the dental cavity with the same color as the tooth.
After placing the special intermediate material on the tooth, the composite will be inserted into the cavity and then hardened by special blue light.
Composite Advantages: The main advantage of composites is the restoration of the aesthetics of the teeth. By combining colors, the dentist can find and apply the right color to the patient’s teeth. Unlike amalgam, the composite attaches to the teeth like adhesives, As a result, the dentist only needs to remove the so-called rotten parts and fill the cavity and this procedure requires less tooth extraction than amalgam restoration.
Disadvantages of composite:
After filling the teeth with composite, the chances of tooth sensitivity after chewing are usually higher than amalgam. The white color of the composite may also change over time due to the consumption of pigmented foods and beverages such as tea and coffee.
Another disadvantage of the composite is the formation of very small cracks or micro-leaks between the composite and the tooth over time that can cause bacteria to penetrate and cause secondary caries in the deeper parts of the tooth.
In general, it can be said that either of these two methods has advantages and disadvantages.
However, it should be noted that the decision about the appropriate filling for each tooth should be made with close consultation between the patient and the dentist. Regardless of the type of tooth restoration, proper oral hygiene and regular dental checkup at least once every 6 months, it’s a very effective factor in preventing dental problems.