Replacing Old Cavity Fillings

by | Jan 10, 2022 | Blog Posts

Replacing Old Cavity Fillings

Cavities, otherwise known as tooth decay, are among the most common oral health issues to deal with. 92% of adults in the United States aged 20 to 64 have had a cavity in a permanent tooth at some point in their life.1 Typically, the first line of treatment for preventing cavities from worsening and getting infected is fillings.

While amalgam fillings were created over 150 years ago2 and continue to be used, newer and more popular composite fillings have become commonplace in today’s world of dentistry. Some individuals with amalgam are opting to replace old cavity fillings with this newer variety.

Amalgam vs Composite Fillings for Replacing Old Cavity Fillings

The debate between amalgam and composite fillings comes down to an individual’s specific needs. Here is a brief overview of both of these filling choices:

Amalgam Fillings

Amalgam, or silver fillings, are made with a combination of substances, including mercury, silver, tin, and copper. Some of the benefits of amalgam fillings include:

  • Fillings are durable and typically last a decade or longer
  • Less expensive to get than composite fillings

However, a few drawbacks of amalgam fillings are:

  • The filling contains mercury, a potentially toxic substance. However, it has been proven that while the mercury in amalgam raises mercury levels, it is not at a level that has any clinical significance3
  • Temperature changes can impact amalgam

Composite Fillings

Composite fillings are a type of resin filling made from glass, resin, and plastic materials.  A few benefits of composite fillings are:

  • Extremely natural in appearance
  • Stick very nicely onto a tooth’s enamel
  • Requires less removal of tooth structure while preparing the tooth for filling

Alternatively, the drawbacks of composite fillings include:

  • More expensive than amalgam fillings
  • Less durable long term than amalgam fillings

Reasons Why People Replace Old Cavity Fillings With Composite Fillings

Typically, a person replaces old cavity fillings when they get cracks, chips, or other damage. Replacing a filling is essential because a broken filling with wear and tear allows new bacteria from your mouth to get into the cavity hole, in turn causing more decay and damage to your tooth.

Since research shows amalgam metal fillings are safe to keep in your mouth, choosing to switch from a traditional to composite filling is your decision to make according to your unique health or cosmetic concerns. However, here are two reasons why you may want to replace your current filling with a composite:

#1: Improved Appearance Of Smile

When an amalgam filling is on a front tooth in your mouth, its metallic color can impact the appearance of your smile. On the other hand, a tooth-colored composite filling appears much more natural because it is the same color as a tooth.

#2: Allergy To Mercury

While it is pretty rare, some individuals have an allergy or sensitivity to the materials found in amalgam fillings. An allergy to mercury and other amalgam ingredients can cause symptoms in the mouth, such as oral lesions.2 In this case, these individuals should opt for a composite filling.

Replace Your Dental Fillings With Empire Dental Care

Before deciding to change out your old cavity filling, it is essential to seek professional dental care to see what a dentist recommends. Here at Empire Dental Care, we have the expertise to help you in determining the best-fit filling for your specific concerns.

Contact us online or call us at (585) 671-1650 to schedule your appointment with our dental team.



Dr. Cohen has been practicing dentistry in private and public settings for over 10 years, completing her DMD degree in 2010 at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. Committed to providing dental care of the highest level, Dr. Cohen relocated to Rochester in 2016 to pursue advanced dental trainings at the Dental Urgent Care Fellowship at The University of Rochester, Eastman Institute for Oral Health, graduating in 2017, and the AEGD Residency program in 2019. She recently completed an additional advanced General Practice Residency program at St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany NY. This summer she moved back to Rochester with her husband Kevin, a native Rochesterian, to be closer to family. Throughout her career and personal life, Dr. Cohen has shown her genuine compassion and care to people and patients from all walks of life. She volunteered in underserved areas, practiced in clinics for patients with complex special needs, and treated medically compromised patients among others. She also taught and mentored other dentists and students helping them achieve their professional and personal goals. Most of all, Dr. Cohen’s warm personality and love of people create a welcoming, comfortable feeling for both patients and staff.