Silver Fillings vs White Fillings

Dental fillings are used to repair damaged or decayed teeth and restore the tooth’s shape and function. Among the different types of fillings available, silver (amalgam) and white (composite) fillings are the most commonly used. Both types have their pros and cons. So, which one is better for your teeth? In this blog post, we’ll compare silver fillings vs white fillings to help you make an informed decision.

Comparison between Silver Fillings vs White Fillings

Amalgam fillings, also known as silver fillings, have been in use for more than 150 years. On the other hand, composite fillings, often referred to as white fillings, are a relatively recent innovation. They were introduced in the 1960s and have been gaining popularity due to their aesthetic appeal.

We’ll use the following criteria to compare silver fillings vs white fillings:

  • Appearance
  • Durability and Longevity
  • Cost
  • Procedure
  • Safety and Health Concerns


One of the main differences between silver fillings and white fillings is their appearance. As the name suggests, silver fillings, also known as amalgam fillings, are made of a mixture of metals, including mercury, silver, tin, and copper. They have a dark silver color that stands out against the white color of natural teeth.

On the other hand, white fillings, also known as composite fillings, are made of a mixture of plastic (acrylic) resin and powdered glass. They can be color-matched to your natural teeth, making them virtually invisible.

A molar with a silver filling (left) and a molar with a white filling (right).
Silver vs white fillings: On the left, a molar with a silver (amalgam) filling, and on the right, a molar with a white (composite) filling.

Durability and Longevity

Silver fillings are known for their strength and durability, which is why they have been used in dentistry for over a century. They can withstand the forces of chewing and last longer than white fillings. On average, silver fillings can last 10-15 years. However, they may need to be replaced earlier if subjected to excessive wear and tear.

White fillings, on the other hand, are not as strong as silver fillings but can still withstand normal chewing forces. They have a shorter lifespan of 5-7 years and may need to be replaced sooner. Initially, composite fillings were not as durable as amalgam fillings, but advances in dental technology have significantly improved their strength and longevity.

Cost of Silver vs White Fillings

The cost of fillings is also a factor to consider when comparing silver fillings vs white fillings. Silver fillings are generally less expensive than white fillings due to the lower cost of materials and the simpler procedure.

White fillings are typically more expensive than silver fillings because they require a more complex procedure and use higher-quality materials. They also take longer to place, which can increase the overall cost.


Both fillings require one visit to the dentist, although the procedure for each is slightly different. The procedure for placing silver fillings is relatively simple and quick. After the removal of tooth decay, a base or liner is placed in the cavity, followed by the silver filling material. The filling is then shaped and polished to fit your bite.

The procedure for white fillings is a bit more complex. After the decayed part of the tooth is removed, the tooth is prepared with an etching solution. The composite filling material is then placed in the cavity, layer by layer. Each layer is hardened with a special light before the next layer is added. Once all the layers are in place, the composite filling is shaped and polished to match your bite.

An important thing to note in the comparison of silver fillings vs white fillings is the hardening process. Silver fillings (amalgam) begin to harden almost immediately after placement and are usually completely set within 24 hours. This means you should avoid eating hard or crunchy foods on the side of the filling for at least 24 hours after the procedure. In contrast, white fillings (composite) are instantly hardened with the special light used during the procedure, allowing you to eat normally immediately after the appointment.

Safety and Health Concerns

One of the main concerns regarding silver fillings is their mercury content. While the American Dental Association (ADA) and the FDA have deemed them safe for use, there is still controversy surrounding their potential health risks. Some people believe that over time, mercury from silver fillings can leak into the body and cause health problems. However, numerous studies have found no evidence to support this claim.

White fillings are considered a safer alternative as they do not contain mercury. They are made of a composite resin material that is biocompatible and does not pose any known health risks.

Silver vs White Fillings – Which is Better?

There is no clear consensus on which type of filling is better. It ultimately depends on:

  • Location of the tooth
  • Personal preference
  • Cost and insurance coverage
  • Dentist’s recommendation

Amalgam fillings are generally more durable and can last for over 10 years, but they are also more noticeable due to their silver color. Also, they can’t be used for front teeth as they are visible when you smile or talk.

On the other hand, white fillings blend in seamlessly with your natural teeth and are a popular choice for visible teeth. They may not be as long-lasting as silver fillings, but they can still last 5-7 years with proper care. They tend to be more expensive and may not be covered by insurance.

Silver Fillings vs White Fillings – Conclusion

In conclusion, both silver and white fillings have their benefits and drawbacks. Silver fillings are more durable and cost-effective, while white fillings offer a more natural appearance and do not contain mercury. Ultimately, the choice between the two types of fillings will depend on your budget, individual preferences, and needs.

If you have any further questions or concerns about silver fillings vs white fillings, it is best to consult with your dentist. They will be able to provide you with personalized advice and help you make the best decision for your oral health. Remember, maintaining good oral hygiene and regular visits to your dentist are essential for preventing the need for fillings in the first place.

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