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  • Writer's pictureGaby

What's the difference between a silver filling and a white filling?

Updated: Dec 1, 2023



Silver fillings, also known as dental amalgam, are composed of a mixture of metals; including silver, tin, copper, and mercury. They have been used for many years and are known for their durability. However, the silver color can be noticeable in the mouth, which some people find aesthetically displeasing. On the other hand, white fillings, also called composite or tooth-colored fillings, are made of a plastic resin material mixed with finely ground glass particles. They are designed to match the color of natural teeth, providing a more discreet and natural appearance. White fillings are often used for front teeth or visible areas where cosmetic concerns are important.


The choice between silver and white fillings depends on various factors, including the location of the tooth, the size of the cavity, and personal preferences. While silver fillings are durable and have been used for a long time, white fillings have become increasingly popular due to their cosmetic advantages. Additionally, some people express concerns about the mercury content in dental amalgam, although numerous scientific studies have found dental amalgam to be safe for most patients. Below are some advantages and disadvantages of amalgam and composite filling material.


Advantages of Silver Fillings (Dental Amalgam):

  1. Durability: Amalgam fillings are known for their long-lasting durability, making them suitable for load-bearing teeth at the back of the mouth.

  2. Cost-Effectiveness: Silver fillings tend to be less expensive than tooth-colored composite fillings.

  3. Faster Placement: The placement process for amalgam fillings is often quicker than that for composite fillings, which can be an advantage for some patients.

Disadvantages of Silver Fillings:

  1. Aesthetics: The silver color is conspicuous, and some people may find it less aesthetically pleasing, especially for visible teeth.

  2. Mercury Content: Although the mercury in dental amalgam has been deemed safe for most individuals, some people are concerned about potential health risks associated with mercury exposure.

  3. Shrinkage: Over time the material will shrink allowing the space between the filling and tooth structure to open. Thus making the tooth vunelrable to recurrent decay as food and bacteria will eventually find their way in and tooth brush brittles are to large to be introduced into the space.

Advantages of White Fillings (Composite):

  1. Aesthetics: Composite fillings are tooth-colored and can be matched to the natural color of the teeth, providing a more cosmetically appealing result.

  2. Versatility: Composite fillings can be used for both front and back teeth, making them a versatile option for various cavities.

  3. Conservation of Tooth Structure: Composite fillings bond directly to the tooth structure, and less removal of healthy tooth material is typically required compared to amalgam fillings.

Disadvantages of White Fillings:

  1. Durability in Load-Bearing Areas: While composite fillings have improved in durability, they may not be as robust as amalgam fillings, making them less suitable for large cavities in back teeth subject to heavy chewing forces.

  2. Cost: Tooth-colored fillings can be more expensive than amalgam fillings, and some dental insurance plans may not fully cover the cost difference.

  3. Placement Time: The placement of composite fillings may take longer than that of amalgam fillings because the tooth must be kept dry during the bonding process.


The choice between silver and white fillings depends on various factors, including the location of the tooth, the size of the cavity, and personal preferences. While silver fillings are durable and have been used for a long time, white fillings have become increasingly popular due to their cosmetic advantages. Additionally, some people express concerns about the mercury content in dental amalgam, although numerous scientific studies have found dental amalgam to be safe for most patients. Always consult with your dentist to determine the most suitable option for your specific dental needs.




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