A: Some disadvantages of amalgam or silver fillings:
• Poor aesthetics. Silver fillings don’t match the color of natural teeth.
• Destruction of more tooth structure. Healthy parts of the tooth must often be removed to make a space large enough to hold the amalgam filling.
• Discoloration. Amalgam fillings can create a grayish hue to the surrounding tooth structure.
• Cracks and fractures. Although all teeth expand and contract in the presence of hot and cold liquids, which ultimately can cause the tooth to crack or fracture, amalgam material — in comparison with composite material — may experience a wider degree of expansion and contraction leading to a higher incidence of cracks and fractures.
• Allergic reactions. A small percentage of people, are allergic to the mercury present in amalgam restorations.
Advantages of composite or white fillings:
• Aesthetics. Composite fillings can be closely matched to the color of your existing teeth so are more aesthetically pleasing.
• Bonding. They actually chemically bond to tooth structure, providing greater support to the tooth.
• Versatility. In addition to use as a filling material for decay, composite fillings can also be used to repair chipped, broken, or worn teeth.
• Tooth sparing preparation. Usually less tooth structure needs to be removed when removing decay and preparing for the filling.
To maintain fillings, follow good oral hygiene practices, visit your dentist regularly, brush at least twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste and floss.
Information from Dear Doctor magazine, provided by Dr. Dennis Winter, Iowa Dental Arts, P.C., 2901 Beaver Ave., 277-6657.