Is it Worth it to Get Dental Fillings?
When you’re considering any dental procedure, you need to know the risks, and weigh them against the benefits. The choice of whether or not to have a dental procedure is very personal, and every person will make their choice differently. Here, we’ll discuss the major risks and benefits of having dental fillings with amalgam or composite resin. If you want to learn more about what the procedure and the recovery are like, please visit Dental Fillings: the Procedure and Recovery.
Please note that this page is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for qualified, individualized medical advice. You should discuss your potential dental procedure with your own dentist.
Any procedure has risks, and they should be carefully weighed before you decide to proceed. In the case of dental fillings, the main risk is discomfort. After having a cavity filled, whether with amalgam or composite, many people experience tooth sensitivity to hot and cold. The sensitivity is often greater with an amalgam filling; because it’s metal, it conducts hot and cold better, so the nerves in the teeth will feel hot and cold more acutely. Additionally, many people experience pain in the filled tooth when biting down or otherwise putting pressure on the tooth. The sensitivity to temperature and to pressure typically resolve within a few weeks, although it’s possible that they’ll continue in some people.
There’s also the risk of the filling wearing out. Typically, a composite resin filling lasts about five to seven years, and an amalgam filling lasts a bit longer (about ten to twelve years). Because natural tooth material was removed to place the filling, when the filling wears out, it has to be replaced with another filling.
Some people have additional concerns about amalgam fillings. One of the metals used in amalgam is mercury, a heavy metal which causes health problems if consumed. There are many people who are concerned that, as the amalgam wears down, mercury will be released into the body. However, several scientific studies have been done and no evidence has been found that amalgam fillings increase the risk of health problems.
If you have cavities, you’re probably experiencing pain and/or sensitivity in the affected tooth (or teeth). There’s also the aesthetic consideration; even one decaying tooth can ruin your perfect smile. Having your cavity filled will fix both of these problems.
There’s another very important benefit to filling a cavity. Because a cavity is an infection in your tooth, it’s filled with bacteria. If untreated, the bacteria will continue to grow and may become an abscess. If it continues untreated, the bacteria may enter the bloodstream, causing you to become severely ill. In this case, your life may be at risk. So having your cavity treated with dental fillings is important for your health, as well as for your beautiful smile.
If you choose composite resin to fill your cavity, the benefit is that it will blend in with the surrounding teeth, and won’t be visible. If you choose amalgam, the benefit is that it will last longer. However, even though amalgam lasts longer, many dentists consider it an outdated material and will not use it for dental fillings. Some people choose to replace their amalgam fillings with composite fillings, either for aesthetic reasons or because they’re concerned about potential amalgam toxicity.
The cost of a dental filling is between $50 and $450, depending on whether you choose composite or amalgam and how large the filling is, and much of the cost is usually covered by dental insurance. Composite fillings cost more than amalgam, and the extra cost may not be covered by insurance. The cost varies between dentists and in different regions, so check with the dentist you’re considering to find out the exact price. For more detail, please visit our Dental Fillings Cost page.