South Eugene Dental - Carey E. Cooney, D.M.D.
Composite vs. Amalgam
     South Eugene Dental is proud to be able to provide you with the highest quality dental care. Your dental health is our primary concern. For this reason, Dr. Cooney and staff have chosen to use composite fillings exclusively in our office.
Many patients do not realize the great differencesbetween the composite fillings and the more traditional amalgam (silver) fillings. In order to appreciate the health benefits of composite, it is necessary to know a few basics about the two materials.
* Amalgam fillings contain mercury, toxic to humans, which gradually leaks
  out of the fillings over time and is absorbed into the body. Composite
  fillings are composed of inert plastic compounds which are non-toxic to
  the body.
* Amalgam fillings stay in place due to the shape of the preparation the
  dentist drills into the tooth. Therefore, a considerable amount of solid tooth
  structure must be removed in order to make the necessary undercuts to
  hold the filling in place. Less tooth structure means the teeth are further
  weakened, increasing the risk of fracturing cusps. Once placed, amalgam
  fillings leave a microscopic gap between filling and tooth. Over time,
  bacteria can enter the space and begin decaying tooth structure around
  and below the filling. This kind of decay is often difficult to detect in oral
  exams and radiographs. By comparison, composite fillings are chemically
  bonded to the teeth. A layer of bonding resin is applied to the tooth before
  the composite is placed and an ultraviolet light is used to rearrange the
  chemical bonds between the tooth, resin, and composite creating a
  complete seal. This kind of bond helps prevent leakage and decay from
  forming under the filling, requires a minimal amount of tooth reduction, and
  leaves the tooth stronger and less likely to fracture compared to
* Amalgam fillings are unsightly and, over time, particles from the filling can
  migrate out into the tooth, causing a gray stain or "amalgam tattoo" that
  cannot be removed. Composite fillings are tooth colored. It is often difficult
  for patients to tell where the filling has been placed.
* Amalgam fillings require a 24 hour set-up time during which the patient
  has to avoid chewing on the teeth. Composites are hardened completely
  before you leave the office. Patients have also reported decreased 
  post-operative cold sensitivity with composite fillings.
Due to the complexity of placing composites and the materials involved, these fillings are more expensive than amalgams. Unfortunately, most insurance companies will only pay for the cheapest restoration available, which means they will pay a percentage of the equivalent amalgam filling cost for each tooth. However, we are sure you will agree that the slight cost difference is worth the benefits to your dental and general health!