The days of placing silver fillings (or dental amalgam) are over. One of the components of dental amalgam is mercury. Last time I checked, mercury was a toxic metal. In addition to the glaring problem of toxicity, dental amalgam also has the disadvantage of being a silver color. There are so many other wonderful materials for dentists to choose from these days, why on earth is this stuff still being used? I have been practicing for over twenty years and I have seen a vast improvement of existing dental materials and the evolution of new materials since I graduated from dental school.
When I place a simple filling, I select a material that is not only tooth colored but will fit the individual situation ideally. Some of the criteria to consider when choosing which specific material to use when designing a restoration are:
- What is the strength requirement of the new restoration?
- What is the internal surface of the tooth look like? What type of bond do I want to achieve?
- What are the esthetic needs of the tooth? Are we attempting to block out dark tooth structure underneath the restoration? Do we want to use a material that has some translucency built into it so the filling “disappears” in the mouth?
- Does the tooth have any preexisting sensitivity issues? Do we want a material that releases Fluoride into the tooth structure?
There are so many conditions that a dentist needs to consider when selecting a suitable filling material for any given situation. Fortunately, today there are so many materials to choose from. And all of the materials are tooth colored!