Tooth Colored Fillings or Silver Fillings

Silver or Tooth Colored Fillings: Explaining Your Options

Cavities are just a part of life.  When you need a filling, there are two options: tooth colored fillings and silver fillings.

Tooth Colored Fillings

Tooth colored fillings are technically “composite” fillings, meaning that the material used to create the filling is made of a type of resin.  This resin includes elements of ceramic and plastic, allowing the color of the filling to be better matched with the tooth.  Further decay is easier to identify with a composite filling.  These fillings have been used for more than 20 years and are strong enough to be placed on back teeth.  Because the composite bonds well with the tooth surface, it gives better overall strength to the filled tooth.  However, to adhere properly, the tooth surface has to be completely dry, which can be difficult to achieve.  They are more expensive than silver fillings and are not as commonly covered by dental insurance.

Silver Fillings

Silver fillings are technically “amalgam” fillings, meaning that the material used to create the filling is a mixture of different metals.  This mixture includes copper, tin, silver and mercury.  One of the benefits of this metal is that it can be placed on wet surfaces, is easily molded to fit the area where the decay was removed and is very strong.  Amalgam fillings last a long time and have been used to fill cavities for more than a century.  However, amalgam fillings are more noticeable than composite fillings.  They can sometimes be affected by weather, expanding and sometimes cracking the tooth.  Because they are metal and cannot be penetrated by an x-ray, amalgam fillings make it harder to detect further decay.

Your dentist can help you select the right filling for your needs.  There is no wrong choice; both types of fillings will get you back on track for great oral health.