Years ago, the preferred approach for filling cavities and repairing damaged teeth was with a mixture – or “amalgam” – of different metals.

Amalgam fillings, although durable, are very noticeable and have a tendency to darken the tooth over time. They also expand and contract when exposed to hot and cold beverages and food, causing teeth to crack. And the mercury used in the metal mixture has caused health concerns.

Today, natural-looking, metal-free fillings are the preferred approach. These tooth-colored fillings are made from composite resins that bond to the natural tooth and are safe and predictable. The major advantages of composite (white) fillings include:

  • They closely match the color and look of natural teeth.
  • They chemically bond to the tooth structure, so the dentist doesn’t need to make grooves or insert pins in healthy teeth to keep them in place.
  • The bonding restores at least 80% of the original strength of the tooth.
  • They harden completely in a few seconds, instead of days.
  • They can be used on front and back teeth.
  • They can be repaired if damaged.

The few disadvantages are that tooth-colored (composite) fillings are not quite as strong as metal fillings, and over time they can become discolored from smoking and exposure to dark liquids (coffee, tea, red wine) and foods with rich dyes (curries, etc.) .

Many older adults still have amalgam fillings that were placed during their teenage years.  Although they’re still in place, they may not be in good condition. If you have old silver fillings that have become dark and unsightly, we can replace them with tooth-colored fillings.