In the last decade tooth colored fillings have become a very popular alternative choice to traditional silver/mercury amalgams. The latest insurance company statistics show that 65% of the fillings placed in the US are tooth colored composites compared to 35% amalgam. If you prefer tooth colored fillings, there are some things you need to know.

Tooth colored fillings are completely different from amalgam fillings. They are not just the same hole filled with a different material. Everything from the preparation to the way the filling is placed is different and much more technique sensitive.

Before you choose a composite restoration you should ask your dentist four questions.

1) Do you use a dental dam or other device to completely isolate the tooth? Saliva contamination during the filling process will severely compromise the final result and must be avoided.

2) How do you determine that all of the decay has been removed? Complete decay removal is critical to the bond of a composite filling to the tooth. There are products available that can confirm total decay elimination.

3) Do you place the composite filling all at one time, or in separate, small layers that are individually cured? Composite fillings shrink as a percentage of their volume when cured. Larger filling increments shrink more and make the restoration more prone to post operative sensitivity and premature failure.

4) Do you offer both silver amalgam fillings and tooth colored composites? Because they are do different, you may want to choose dentists who focus their skills and training on tooth colored composites only.

Millions of silver amalgam restorations have been placed by US dentists over the years and have proved to be a valuable service to many. Tooth colored composites now rival amalgams for durability, but only if placed using the proper techniques.

For your dental health,
Dr S