Bad Math Is Making People Think Tooth-Colored Fillings Not as Good as Metal Amalgam

Jan 24, 2014, by Dr. Becky Coats
Tooth-colored fillings have been enthusiastically embraced by dental patients. They look more like natural tooth enamel and don’t have toxic mercury: what’s not to like?

Their longevity, according to some dentists, who have turned against the metal amalgam replacements. Not only have prominent dentists spoken out against metal amalgam alternatives, but the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) has put its money where its mouth is, ponying up nearly $3 million in the search for a new alternative.

But a new review suggests that the bad opinion some have of tooth-colored filling isn’t the fault of the fillings, it’s the fault of the math.

The 10,000 Teeth

Wits University in South Africa has conducted a new review of dental fillings research. Researchers conducted a comprehensive search in 17 global and regional databases, looking not just in English language, but Chinese, Spanish, and other language databases as well. They identified 38 studies relevant to their research question, which in total looked at more than 10,000 restorations placed in teeth, with a follow-up of one to six years.

The lead researcher summarized the results, “The results of SYSTEM’s meta-epidemiological study show that statements concerning glass-ionomers’ inferiority to amalgam and other types of materials are based on incorrect statistical comparison methods.” In other words, they were using the wrong math to compare the results.

Tooth-Colored Fillings a Good Option

Tooth-colored fillings are not metal amalgam fillings. Their benefits go far beyond the cosmetic. For one thing, they are not as likely to cause tooth sensitivity as metal amalgam fillings, which can conduct heat or cold deep into the tooth. In addition, tooth-colored fillings have a more similar expansion and contraction rate to tooth enamel, making it much less likely that your tooth will experience microfractures around the filling that can lead to cracked teeth.

To learn more about the value of tooth-colored fillings, please contact Grapevine Dental Care in Grapevine, Texas today for an appointment with Dr. Becky Coats.