Gone are the days when dentists could only treat tooth trauma and cavities with metal fillings. Today, you can choose a bonded, tooth-colored filling in your tooth for a stronger, more natural-looking effect. Both types of fillings have their pros and cons. So which filling is right for you?

The first step in selecting a filling type is education. Below is a comparison of the 2 most popular filling types in Canada.

Metal Fillings

Dentists have been using metal fillings for over 100 years. Known as dental amalgam, it is the most common type of filling in Canada. A mix of metals such as mercury, silver, copper, and tin, amalgam is often used to fill back teeth.

Metal fillings require more tooth removal and more aggressive tooth preparation design. Over time, the metal can settle and cause outward pressure on the tooth. These two effects make metal fillings notorious for causing fracture lines and weakening the tooth, as well as making the teeth look dark and unaesthetic.

Pros: Dental Amalgam/ Metal Fillings

  • Amalgam is the least expensive type of filling
  • Amalgam lasts a long time
  • Dentists often do amalgam filling in one visit

Cons: Dental Amalgam/Metal Fillings

  • The silver colour does not have a “natural” look
  • Amalgam releases tiny amounts of mercury from the filling when you chew. However, studies have shown that amalgam fillings do not cause illness

It is important to note that Health Canada advises pregnant women to wait until the baby is born before getting an amalgam filling. Your dentist can suggest other kinds of fillings, if the work is urgent.

(source: https://www.cda-adc.ca/en/oral_health/talk/procedures/fillings/)

amalgam/metal fillings
Patient with amalgam/metal fillings

Bonded Fillings

Bonded fillings are a tooth-coloured mix of plastic and ceramic. Often called composite, plastic, or white fillings, a bonded filling is a procedure in which your dentist cleans all decay from the tooth and applies a bonding agent inside the cavity. Dentists then apply a tooth-coloured resin material, in thin layers, into the cavity and harden it with a UV light. Once the last layer of the filling is hard, your dentist shapes the filling, restoring or improving a person’s smile. Bonded fillings are almost undetectable.

Pros: Bonded Fillings

  • Bonded fillings are more aesthetically appealing
  • Dentists often do bonded filling in one visit
  • Dentists chemically bond these fillings the tooth

Cons: Bonded Fillings

  • Bonded fillings break easier than amalgam
  • Bonded fillings cost more than amalgam fillings
  • Recurrent decay can be a problem

In contrast to metal, bonded fillings usually require less tooth removal for small/medium-sized cavities. This factor makes the teeth significantly stronger in the long run, and lowers the risk of fractures. Modern composite materials, if used appropriately, can restore teeth to look completely natural.

bonded/composite fillings
Child getting a bonded/composite filling

At District Dental, we believe in helping you achieve a better and healthier smile for life. For us, that means focusing on replacing your metal fillings with bonded composite fillings. In the end, the decision is always yours. Whichever filling you choose, make sure you discuss your options with your dentist. Only he/she can provide you with everything you need to make an informed decision.

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