The Differences Between A Composite And Amalgam Dental Filling

1 April 2020
 Categories: Dentist, Blog

Has your dentist told you that you need to have a filling placed in one of your teeth? You may be wondering what material you should have to fill it. What you need to know about the major differences between composite and amalgam fillings.

Material Composition 

It's important to understand that a composite and amalgam filling are made out of completely different materials. A composite filling is mostly made of plastic but also contains a fair amount of fine glass. An amalgam filling is about half made with mercury, while the rest is an even mixture of copper, silver, zinc, and tin. While a composite filling provides a white color that blends in with your teeth, an amalgam filling will have a metallic color. This makes composite fillings a great choice for any cavity on a visible part of a tooth. 


If budget is a concern, be aware that the composite filling is going to be more expensive than having an amalgam filling placed in your tooth. This can help guide your decision if you do not want to spend a lot on the filling material. Amalgam fillings work great for those on a budget, or simply not concerned because the filling is in a place they cannot see. 


However, one thing to keep in mind is what can cause an amalgam filling to fail over the years. That metal is more likely to expand and contract under different temperatures, which can cause the surrounding parts of the tooth to crack. The amalgam material can also tarnish over time. 

Composite fillings can last longer than amalgam fillings, and you won't have to deal with those problems specific to metal. Each type of filling material can still crack over time, which allows bacteria to get into the tooth if the filling material is not replaced. 


There is actually a big difference with how each filling material feels once it is in the tooth. An amalgam filling is going to cause more sensitivity issues because the metal will react differently. You may feel that the tooth is more sensitive when drinking hot or cold beverages, and send a small shock to your tooth as a result. 

Not sure what type of filling material you should get for your cavity? Reach out to a dentist in your area for more information. They can make a recommendation based on the placement of the cavity, your budget, and how long you want the filling to last.