Advantages of composites:
- Aesthetics -- the shade/color of the composite fillings can be closely matched to the color of existing teeth. Composites are particularly well suited for use in front teeth or visible parts of teeth.
- Bonding to tooth structure -- composite fillings actually chemically bond to tooth structure, providing further support.
- Versatility -- in addition to use as a filling material for decay, composite fillings can also be used to repair chipped, broken, or worn teeth.
- Tooth-sparing preparation -- sometimes less tooth structure needs to be removed compared with amalgam fillings when removing decay and preparing for the filling.
Disadvantages of composites:
- Lack of durability -- composite fillings wear out sooner than amalgam fillings (lasting at least five years compared with at least 10 to 15 for amalgams); in addition, they may not last as long as amalgam fillings under the pressure of chewing and particularly if used for large cavities.
- Increased chair time -- because of the process to apply the composite material, these fillings can take up to 20 minutes longer than amalgam fillings to place.
- Additional visits -- if composites are used for inlays or onlays, more than one office visit may be required.
- Chipping -- depending on location, composite materials can chip off the tooth.
- Expense -- composite fillings can cost up to twice the cost of amalgam fillings.