Composite vs Amalgam
Why Our Office Used Composite Instead of Amalgam
- Amalgam, when first invented was great stuff. It still is, in fact, but it isn't any greater now than it was 150 years ago. Technical improvements in it over the years have made minor differences in its physical properties, but other than the addition of trace elements to the mix for the purpose of reducing tarnishing, speeding the setting time and changing minor physicals parameters, it really hasn't changed much since it was invented.
- Composite fillings are routinely BONDED to the tooth structure. It also helps to retain the filling inside the tooth while amalgam fillings depend on the use of undercuts in the cavity preparation to retain them. Amalgam fillings must engage undercuts within the cavity preparation so they will not dislodge. Amalgam also requires a minimum depth of a millimeter and a half in order to form its crystalline structure while composite fillings have no minimum depth. (If they are not deep enough, the amalgam will be too thin and tends to crack.) The use of bonded composites has made possible the use of very small fillings that do not have the mechanical retention necessary to retain an amalgam. It has also made possible the use of shallow and thin cavity preparation which do not require the use of anesthetic to cut due to their very small size.
- There is NO comparison between the appearance of a composite filling and an amalgam. The results are so esthetically superior, that most people opt for the slightly more expensive composite over the less expensive amalgam. Since many people have quite a few fillings in the back teeth, the difference between a mouth with composite fillings versus the same mouth with amalgams is striking.
- Before the advent of composite filling materials, many damaged teeth could not be repaired unless a root canal, post and core and crown were done. This was because working characteristics of amalgam required stringent techniques when were absolutely necessary but not always achievable under real circumstances. Once modern composites became available, it became possible to repair some of these teeth using "freehand" techniques impossible with amalgam. Repair of these teeth is often not technically "perfect", but it offers an affordable alternative to the stark choices of extraction or a very expensive series of steps, like root canals, post, and crowns.