This page provides information about the pros and cons of white composite fillings versus silver amalgam fillings. There are several important differences between the two types, it's not just a matter of appearance.

 

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As a patient, your dentist should inform you of the availability of the white composite fillings. If you have had amalgam fillings placed in your mouth without being offered the option of having white fillings instead, the dentist has not performed his or her legal duty.

 

Given the opportunity to make a fully informed choice, my experience is that the vast majority of today's dental patients will choose the white fillings. There are several reasons for this: In the view of many, the mercury in amalgam is viewed as potentially toxic. (Traditional dentists like to use the term "silver fillings," but they have more mercury in them than silver.) Also, the feeling is that the white composite represents a more advanced technology. Additionally, composite is more esthetic. For all these reasons, the public is demanding white. And, with today's technology, composite fillings can easily withstand the stress required to serve in a back tooth.

amalbefore.jpg (14782 bytes)amalgam fillings

See how beautiful these teeth look after removing the old fillings and replacing them with bonded white fillings. Besides looking better, these teeth are now more resistant to fracture.

Further information about white fillings:

ADVANTAGES OF WHITE FILLINGS:

ADVANTAGES OF SILVER AMALGAM FILLINGS:

  • They are generally less expensive. Composite fillings, if they are done correctly, take about 60% longer, require special expertise and expensive materials, and are more difficult to place, and so they cost considerably more than silver. Dental insurance companies will generally not pick up this extra cost. Click here for extra information about the costs of white fillings.
  • General dentists can place amalgam without extra training. Composite requires the use of special bonding technology that many dentists are uncomfortable with.
  • The proper placement of a white filling requires that the site for the filling be kept totally isolated from saliva while it is being placed. In the very back of the mouth, on some patients, it is difficult to keep the tooth isolated for the duration of the procedure. This can also be uncomfortable for some patients. A silver amalgam filling does not require this strict isolation of the tooth.
  • The filling by itself is a stronger material, although it weakens the tooth.
  • Silver fillings have a longer history of use than mercury-free fillings, thus some feel that they are more tried and tested.

One caution-the composite fillings can be seriously weakened by excessive alcohol consumption. If you have a habit of drinking beverages with high alcohol content (whiskey, etc.) on a daily basis, you may find the composite fillings deteriorating prematurely.

 

Dental schools, as a rule, do not fully train dentists for placing these newer types of fillings. Unfortunately, dentists have to pursue additional post-graduate continuing education to become proficient in composite bonding technology. For a directory of dentists trained to provide these services, please see our cosmetic dentist referral page.

 

 

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Click here to read frequently asked questions about composite fillings and amalgams.

Read Dr. Hall's blog posts about white fillings, where he answers questions from visitors.

 

This information is provided by the mynewsmile.com cosmetic dentistry referral service, and was written by Dr. David Hall.

Other information: porcelin veneers is a common misspelling.

By Dr. David Hall

Written by a cosmetic dentist!

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White Composite Fillings Compared with Amalgam Fillings

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