Created as an alternative to traditional metal fillings, composite is now the material of choice for filling cavities in many situations. If a cavity does not significantly weaken the structural integrity of a tooth then composite is an excellent material for restoring that cavity as it is tooth coloured and durable making it look great and last well. Compared to the traditionally used metal filling material amalgam, it actually looks like a tooth as opposed to black or silver and there is no issue with possible mercury toxicity. The only thing with composite as a filling material is that it is much more technique sensitive than amalgam is for dentists to use so dentists need to take more care in the way they put the filling into a tooth to ensure the filling lasts as long as it should.
Many people still have amalgam fillings (silver). These fillings contain mercury which was said to be poisonous to the body as well as the environment. The amounts of mercury in the fillings however are theoretically not significant enough to be a real threat but amalgam fillings are generally not as advantageous as composite fillings because they demand more aggressive drilling and tooth removal leading to weakening of the tooth, and can be susceptible to corrosion.
Can you believe that only 30 years ago, dentists used to think that the bigger the hole they drilled (even for a small bit of decay) the better it was for the health of your tooth? Of course now they realise that they were wrong and have gone in the other direction, making fillings as small as they possibly can, catching the decay as early as possible and minimising the amount of drilling done. However, there is a generation of people who had this aggressive dental treatment and now have large, black amalgam fillings in almost all of their back teeth. Is this you?
If you have a cavity in a tooth or broken fillings or if your teeth are full of mercury/ amalgam fillings you may want to ask us about changing to composite resin dental fillings.