For years, one of the most common defenses of filling decayed teeth with amalgam was that mercury fillings were stronger and more durable than tooth-colored composite. But that’s just not the case anymore. As one recent scientific review puts it,
Research has observed that the performance of newer composite is at par with amalgam in terms of compressive strength and longevity, even in multisurfaced restorations.
The World Health Organization, the European Commission, and others have reinforced the point that composite performs just as well as amalgam. It is also far easier to repair if needed and conserves as much natural tooth structure as possible, enhancing tooth longevity.
And unlike mercury amalgam, it’s biocompatible.
That’s the case with another material we commonly use for restorations (implants, too): zirconia. And just as with composite, science is proving its worth as a dental material, as shown in a paper just published in the Journal of Dentistry.
Here, researchers reviewed the findings from nearly 40 systematic reviews on zirconia restorations, encompassing 128 studies involving roughly 10,000 restorations.
Suffice it to say, it’s a pretty comprehensive review, which found that zirconia restorations are highly successful, resistant to wearing down and extremely durable.
In follow-up time frames ranging from six months to 11 years, zirconia single crowns had survival rates of 75% to 100%, while multiunit fixed dental prostheses (FDPs) had rates of 67% to 100%. Studies that compared all-ceramic single crowns with metal-ceramic crowns found that the five-year survival rate for zirconia crowns was 91%, compared with 96% for metal-ceramic crowns.
The authors also looked at the matter of “complications” with these restorations and found that the most common problem was chipping, which often went totally unnoticed until the patient’s next dental exam. In most cases, the chipping was minor and easily repaired.
To the virtues confirmed by this latest review, we’d also add that they’re aesthetically superior, too, looking and acting as much like natural teeth as possible – exactly what you want to repair or replace any teeth damaged by disease or injury.