Cavities—almost everyone has had one at some point in their life. In fact, 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.
Whether you ate too much sugar as a kid or you do not floss enough as an adult, not taking proper care of your teeth has likely resulted in some tooth decay. Luckily, cavity fillings have been used in the United States since 1830. As a result, dental practices like ours at Hempfield Family Dentistry have all of the knowledge you will need to help you decide whether you want silver vs. white fillings for your cavities.
In this post, we want to talk about two very popular filling types: “amalgam,” or silver fillings, and “resin composite,” or white fillings.
Silver fillings are the oldest, and probably most well-known type of 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 is what helps bond the metal components together at a relatively low cost compared to crowns which is part of why these have been such popular filling types since the 1800s!
Much newer than amalgam fillings are the resin composite or white fillings. White 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!
Pros and Cons: Silver vs. White Fillings
So now the big question—which tooth filling material is better? There is no right answer, but we wanted to list the pros and cons of silver vs. white fillings to help you make a decision the next time you need a cavity filled!
Pros: Silver Fillings
- Cost-Efficient – Silver fillings tend to be slightly less expensive to get 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 faster 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.
- 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.
Pros: White Fillings
- Nearly Invisible – The most obvious pro of white 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, resin tooth filling material bonds to a broken tooth or cavity prep with the ability to make it look like new and provides less chance of future fracture.
Cons: White Fillings
- Touch-Ups – Because resin does not have the same surface strength as silver fillings, the composite may need touch-ups from excessive grinding.
- More Expensive – The best part of white 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 a longer time in the chair at the dentist’s office, which is part of what makes the procedure more expensive.
Still Unsure About Which Filling is Right for You?
Let the professionals at Hempfield Family Dentistry help your decision! 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. We are proud to make common procedures easy, quick, and painless for our patients, even when it comes to filling a cavity!
Give us a call or contact us online to see how we can help better the future of your dental health.