Whether you ate too much sugar as a kid or you do not floss enough as an adult, neglecting the proper care of your teeth causes issues like tooth decay and cavities. If you are experiencing spontaneous pain or sensitivity in your teeth, you may be suffering from tooth decay.
The scary part is that you may not even know you have a cavity, especially if you skip your regular dental checkups. Not treating this issue can lead to severe health problems, including tooth abscess, damaged or broken teeth, and chewing problems.
Luckily, cavity fillings have been used in the United States since 1830 to treat tooth decay and cavities. The most common types of fillings today are silver and white tooth fillings. Both involve a minor dental procedure that removes the decayed part of the tooth and fills it in with either a composite resin or silver amalgam filling.
And since almost everyone has a cavity at some point in their lives, you may be wondering which filling material is best for restoring teeth to give you the bright, healthy smile you deserve.
Dental practices like ours at Hempfield Family Dental Care have all the knowledge you will need to help you decide whether you want silver vs. white fillings for your cavities. If you are still not sure after reading this article, please reach out to us to schedule an appointment with Dr. Kolsun for his professional opinion.
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), approximately 92% of adults aged 20 to 64 have experienced dental caries (tooth decay, cavities, etc.) in their permanent teeth. One dental filling treatment option is silver fillings. This type is the oldest and probably most well-known tooth filling material in the dental world.
And while they are silver in color, these cavity fillers have long been made up of 50% mercury. The other half of these metal fillings are comprised of silver, tin, and copper. The mercury in the fillings helps bond the metal components together at a relatively low cost compared to crowns which is why these have been such popular filling types since the 1800s.
Some people are concerned with the health risk of mercury in dental fillings. The type of mercury in the fillings is elemental mercury, which releases mercury vapor. The vapor is absorbed by the lungs, not the digestive tract, as in the case with mercury in fish. Rest assured that dental amalgam fillings are safe, and the amount of mercury ingested or inhaled during the dental treatment is minimal and likely will not cause negative side effects.
The benefits and disadvantages of silver fillings include:
Pros: Silver Fillings
- Cost-Efficient – Silver fillings tend to be slightly less expensive than their resin counterparts.
- Long-Lasting – Due to the metal materials, dentists have found that amalgam fillings can last for about 10 to 15 years before needing to be replaced.
- Faster Procedure – Metal fillings harden much quicker than other types, which leads to less time in the dental office!
Cons: Silver Fillings
- Noticeable – This may not come as a surprise, but silver fillings are much more noticeable in your mouth, especially if you have a lot of them.
- Mercury Myth – Since the fillings are made up of 50% mercury, some people think that they could get mercury in their bloodstream over time, but this is not true, as previously discussed.
- Potential Allergies – If you have any sensitivity to metals, there is a potential for an allergic reaction that could cause complications.
- Potential Fracture – Since silver fillings do not bond to the tooth structure itself, they can potentially weaken the tooth, causing fractures that lead to crowns or possible extractions.
White Tooth Fillings
Much newer than amalgam fillings are the white resin composite fillings. White tooth fillings were first introduced in the 1960s and have become much more commonplace in dental practices. Made up of a mixture of ceramic and plastic, this tooth filling material will match the color of your tooth, making it so it does not even look like you have a cavity filling!
Many patients prefer these white composite fillings because they are not as noticeable in their mouths. However, there are some pros and cons to be aware of before deciding on tooth-colored fillings.
Pros: White Fillings
- Nearly Invisible – The most obvious pro of white tooth fillings is that they are almost impossible to see!
- Less Tooth Loss – With silver fillings, your tooth undergoes a lot of drilling, but with resin, it will just fill in where necessary and save more of your tooth.
- Bonds to Natural Tooth – Unlike silver fillings, one of the benefits of white fillings is that the material bonds to a broken tooth to make it look new and provides less chance of future fracture.
Cons: White Fillings
- Touch-Ups – The composite may need touch-ups from excessive grinding because resin does not have the same surface strength as silver fillings.
- More Expensive – The best part of white dental fillings is that they blend into your teeth, but you will pay for that luxury at a higher price.
- Takes Longer – Due to the nature of the material, you will spend more time in the chair for the dental work, which is part of what makes the procedure more expensive.
Which Is Better? Silver vs. White Fillings
So now the big question—which tooth filling material is better? There is no right answer, as every person’s needs are different. You may want to choose white tooth fillings since they look like natural tooth material. However, if dental procedures are not for you, silver fillings will last longer and take less time to complete than white ones.
Still Unsure About Which Filling is Right for You?
Let the professionals at Hempfield Family Dental Care help you decide between silver and white tooth fillings! We are proud to make common procedures easy, quick, and painless for our patients, even when filling a cavity! Dr. Kolsun and his team of dental specialists and hygienists all work together to provide the best dental care possible for you and your family.
Our state-of-the-art technology and fun, caring atmosphere will put you at ease as you resolve your dental health issues and get the smile you have always wanted! Give us a call or contact us online to see how we can help better the future of your dental health.