Tooth decay or dental caries affects almost all the adult population and in the past cavities were often filled with amalgam. Many people still have these silver-coloured fillings, known as Amalgam, in their mouth. Amalgam is a hard-wearing material that has been in use for decades, but although cost-effective, our dentists Dr. Larry Leslie and Dr. Tom Greene don’t believe it is the best way to repair teeth.
Tsawwassen Place Dental has been an amalgam-free dental practice for many years as we much prefer to use white or tooth coloured fillings. These are made from a tough composite resin material that is available in many different shades and it even comes in different translucencies. When placing this type of filling, we may choose to use several different shades to get an exact match with your natural tooth. This creates a strong, beautiful and nearly invisible filling.
The composite resin used to create tooth coloured fillings is more biocompatible, which means it will work in harmony with your tooth. When placed inside the cavity, the composite resin will bond strongly with your tooth. This helps to seal out decay-causing bacteria, protecting the tooth. If an amalgam filling is placed, it is merely packed into the cavity and will not form this bond. A tooth coloured filling will not flex whenever it comes into contact with hot or cold, or when it is placed under pressure, for example when you chew food. In contrast, an amalgam filling will flex under pressure, and it expands and contracts when it comes into contact with hot and cold. Even though these movements are tiny, over time they can create microfractures in the tooth which will gradually weaken it, increasing its susceptibility to cracking.
Choosing a composite resin filling also helps to preserve your natural tooth. With this type of filling, Dr. Leslie or Dr. Greene will only need to remove the damaged portion of the tooth, leaving healthy areas intact. When placing an amalgam filling, it is necessary to remove a greater area of your natural tooth.
A composite resin filling is perfect for restoring teeth with small to medium sized cavities. Ideally, with regular checkups at Tsawwassen Place Dental, we should be able to detect any small lesions in your teeth at a very early stage so they can easily be repaired with a composite resin filling. If you have a larger cavity in a back tooth, we might suggest using an inlay or onlay. These can be made from porcelain so they are still nearly invisible and are stronger than composite resin.
All restorations need to be replaced occasionally and amalgam fillings are no exception. All your fillings, including amalgams will be carefully assessed during your regular checkups and we will advise you if your fillings have reached the end of their shelf life. As restorations begin to age they can leak and crumble, increasing the risk of infection and decay developing in the tooth. If you have amalgam fillings that have discoloured or if you would prefer to have fillings that are more aesthetically pleasing, then it is worth mentioning your concerns to our dentists. When the time comes to take them out, we will make sure they are safely removed.
* Source: National Smile Month