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Silver or White Dental Fillings: You Decide

Amalgam & Composite Dental Fillings: The Pros & Cons


Updated: March 28, 2007

The two most common types of fillings are Amalgam (silver) and composite (tooth colored). How can you decide which one is best for you? Knowing the pros and cons of each can help you make a comfortable decision.



  • Because of the metal content, amalgam fillings are very strong and can withstand heavy biting pressure, therefore, used primarily for the back teeth.
  • Amalgam filling material is relatively inexpensive.
  • Most insurance companies cover amalgam fillings.


  • Amalgam filling material contains mercury and other metals. While there have been no conclusive studies relating the mercury in amalgam to any dangers, mercury by itself is very toxic.
  • Some people experience a period of hot and cold sensitivity after having an amalgam filling.
  • Amalgam fillings do not harden immediately, therefore, it is not good to chew on that specific tooth for a couple of hours after the filling is placed.
  • More tooth structure is lost because the dentist has to make a bigger preparation.
  • Not all dentists do amalgam fillings anymore.



  • The composite filling material contains only acrylic resin and glass particles, no mercury.
  • The tooth colored filling material looks very nice and natural.
  • This type of filling material is already hard when you leave the dental office, therefore, you can chew on it whenever you like.
  • Less tooth structure is lost because the dentist can make a smaller preparation.


  • The composite filling material is more expensive.
  • This type of filling usually takes the dentist a little longer to do.
  • Composite fillings can stain over a period of time depending factors such as tea, coffee and smoking.
  • These fillings do not get whiter if you bleach your teeth.
  • Composite fillings are strong on back teeth, but not as strong as amalgam.
  • Insurance companies will not always pay for composite fillings on back teeth.

    I prefer the composite fillings for the simple reasons that they look great, and the dentist can save a lot of my tooth structure, which means less drilling! With attributes to both amalgam and composite fillings, the pros and cons can help you decide what type of filling is best for you.

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