Silver Versus White Fillings

Dr. Beck often has patients in his restorative dentistry office ask about the difference between white and silver fillings.

What Are Silver Fillings?

Silver fillings are not made of silver, but are called “amalgam,” and are used to fill cavities in teeth to prevent the

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spread of tooth decay. Amalgam used for fillings is a mixture of metal, including alloy composed of copper, tin, silver and mercury. These are known as “silver” fillings because of their appearance after placement.

Silver, or amalgam, fillings usually require the removal of more tooth structure than white fillings and often can cause some staining of the remaining tooth structure over a number of years.  That being said, amalgam fillings can last for decades because of their strength and ability to withstand hard biting forces.

What Are White Fillings?

While amalgam has been used for over 150 years and is still recommended for very large restorations, huge strides in materials science have been made with white, or composite, fillings.  Composite fillings resemble the natural color and texture of your teeth, and are made from composite resins. These fillings insulate teeth from extremes of heat and cold, and require less invasive preparation than amalgam.

Dr. Beck prefers to use white fillings when he can with smaller cavities because of the superior esthetics and the fact that newer composite materials have better longevity and adaptation than ever before.

Which Filling Should I Choose?

Dentists have many years of training in dental school placing both types of restorative materials. The decision to use white or silver fillings is usually made between the dentist and the patient after a discussion of the risks and benefits of each type of filling.

Next time you visit our dentist office, please feel free to ask Dr. Beck if you have any questions about the different materials used to restore your teeth.