For most of our memorable history, silver (amalgam) was the most popular and widely used filling material for the teeth. Anyone who requested a natural-looking restoration was limited to expensive cosmetic treatments like dental crowns. Over the last 3 decades, composite resin has surpassed amalgam in popularity by enabling dentists to place fillings that are more cosmetically and functionally pleasing to dental patients. Today, most dentists in the Smithfield NC area are offering white or light-colored resin fillings almost exclusively for a number of reasons.
Although composite resin fillings have exploded in popularity over the last 30 years, these white fillings were actually introduced back in the 1960s. The early composite fillings were made of a different material and were not sturdy enough to be placed in the back teeth. In fact, the early generation of composite fillings were known to wear down easily, and did very little to strengthen damaged or weak teeth. With research and advanced technology, scientists have been able to continually improve the composition of tooth-colored filling materials in order to create composite resins that are safer, more durable, and more effective.
It is simple to see why most dental patients tend to choose composite resin over amalgams, but dentists are frequently recommending composite resins for reasons that extend far beyond cosmetics. For example, amalgam fillings often require the removal of large amounts of tooth enamel, whereas dentists are removing smaller amounts of tooth structure when placing composite resin. Composites enable us to preserve more of the existing tooth structure for a more conservative filling.
Amalgam fillings are composed of metal that expands and contracts with heat, causing the teeth to crack over time. In comparison, composite is literally bonded together with the tooth and is able to withstand the pressure from chewing in addition to temperature changes. In fact, composite resin also insulates the teeth from extreme temperatures and remains sturdy for a number of years.