Types of Dental Fillings and Their Pros and Cons

June 25, 2024

Dental fillings treat tooth decay and cavities, restoring the structure and functionality of damaged teeth. One of the most common types, used for decades, is silver tooth fillings, also known as amalgam fillings. However, silver isn’t the only option for most patients. Explore the different types of dental fillings at Laurel Oaks.

Silver and Amalgam Tooth Fillings 

Dental amalgam fillings are a mixture of metals, typically consisting of approximately 50% liquid mercury and a powdered alloy containing silver, tin, and copper. The term “mercury fillings” is often used interchangeably with amalgam fillings since mercury is a major component of these fillings.

Concerns about mercury exposure from dental amalgam fillings have raised questions about their safety. Numerous scientific studies have shown that the amount of mercury released from amalgam fillings is low and generally within safe limits set by regulatory agencies. The American Dental Association agrees that silver fillings are safe. However, specific groups, such as pregnant women, may avoid amalgam fillings due to potential risks.

Silver vs. White Fillings?

The debate between silver and white fillings primarily revolves around appearance and material composition. While silver fillings are highly durable and offer excellent longevity, they have a noticeable dark color, making them less aesthetically pleasing compared to tooth-colored composite resin fillings.

Amalgam Filling Removal

In certain cases, patients may opt to remove their existing amalgam fillings for various reasons, such as aesthetic preferences or perceived health risks. Consultation with a qualified dentist is crucial to safely remove and replace the fillings, ensuring minimal mercury exposure during the process.

Alternatives to Silver Fillings

Composite Resin

Tooth-colored composite resin fillings offer a more natural appearance, though they may be less durable and require replacement more frequently than amalgam fillings.

Composite resin fillings are made of a mixture of plastic and glass materials. They are designed to match the color of natural teeth, making them virtually invisible as they blend in seamlessly with the surrounding tooth structure.

Composite resin can be used for both front and back teeth, addressing cavities and minor cosmetic improvements. Unlike silver fillings, composite resin fillings require less removal of healthy tooth structure during preparation.

Getting composite resin fillings can be more expensive than traditional silver fillings due to their technique-sensitive placement procedures. Also, over time, composite resin fillings may discolor or stain, especially if patients regularly consume staining food or drinks like coffee or wine.

Ceramic or Porcelain 

Other alternatives include ceramic or porcelain fillings that are strong and highly resistant to stains.

Ceramic or porcelain fillings are crafted from strong and highly durable materials that resemble natural teeth in terms of color and texture. Their exceptional durability makes them suitable for both anterior and posterior teeth.

However, ceramic or porcelain fillings tend to be more expensive compared to other filling materials due to the specialized procedures involved in their creation and placement.

Although they are highly durable, ceramic or porcelain fillings can be prone to chipping or cracking if subjected to excessive force or trauma.

Get a Filling at Laurel Oaks Dental

Silver tooth fillings, or amalgam fillings, have been utilized in dentistry for many years due to their durability and cost-effectiveness. While concerns about mercury exposure persist, studies support the safe use of dental amalgam with proper precautions. 

Ultimately, your dentist will consider several factors such as location, size of the cavity, and patient preferences before recommending any particular type of dental fillings. Regular check-ups allow dentists to monitor the condition of the filling and ensure timely repairs or replacements if necessary.

Make your dental filling appointment today at Laurel Oaks.