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Silver fillings or tooth-colored fillings

Posted .

One question I frequently am asked is which is better, silver or tooth-colored fillings? As a dentist, my first and foremost concern is your dental care and the removal of any decay. Having said that, there are distinct advantages and disadvantages associated with each option. I’ve outlined some features of each material in hopes to provide you with education so you can make he best choice for your personal situation.

Silver (or amalgam which is made out of tin, copper, mercury, zinc and silver) particles:


  • Cost effective
  • Lasts for a long time
  • Has been used for decades and have a solid long-term safety record


  • Visible when you smile
  • Since material does not actually bond to teeth, the dentist may have remove more tooth beyond the cavity to form a ledge-like pocket.
  • Changes in temperature can cause the filling to expand or contract which can ultimately affect the life of the filling.
  • Some patients are concerned about the potential dangers of the mercury that is found in amalgam fillings
  • Amalgam is a metal which transmit thermal sensations much more readily than composite restorations.

Tooth-colored (made of composite resin containing glass particles and a type of plastic)


  • Soft and malleable to allow for repairs from chips to filling cavities until hardened under a special light.
  • Not visible
  • Durable


  • Resin costs more than amalgam, which can make the cost higher than for a comparable amalgam filling.
  • Composite fillings can stain over a period of time (from tea, coffee and tobacco use).
  • These fillings do not get whiter if you bleach your teeth.
  • Composite fillings are strong on back teeth, but not as strong as amalgam.
  • Composites are much more technique sensitive to successfully place

Most dental restorations placed these days are composite restorations, it is my opinion and the opinion of the majority of practicing dentist today that composite restorations are a superior restoration to amalgam. Ultimately, the choice of material that is used, is what is in the best interest of the tooth and patient.