Silver Versus White Fillings in General Dentistry Restoration

General Dentistry Services Visalia, CA

One of the most common procedures performed in general dentistry is filling a cavity. Depending on the material used, fillings can be either silver or white. Sometimes patients get to choose which type of filling they will get. Both types are effective, and each offers advantages and disadvantages.

Silver fillings

Silver fillings have been around since the late 1800s, making them the older type of fillings used in general dentistry. Also known as amalgam fillings, silver fillings are made from a mixture of several different metals, including copper, tin, silver, and mercury. Though mercury in its natural state is toxic, binding it to other metals in the mixture makes it more stable. Multiple dental health organizations affirm that silver fillings are safe.


Silver fillings are stronger and more durable than white fillings, which is especially important for teeth such as molars that bear most of the responsibility for chewing food. The procedure to place a silver filling does not take as long because the amalgam dries more quickly. Silver fillings are more cost-effective than white fillings, in part because of the material used.


Though silver fillings are generally safe, some people are sensitive to the different types of metals used and may have reactions. A silver filling requires the removal of more material, making the remaining tooth less stable. Silver fillings can also change the appearance of the teeth.

White fillings

Like silver fillings, white fillings are also made out of a blend of different materials. However, there is no metal in white fillings. Rather, the material used consists of fillers, such as dimethylglyoxime and silica mixed with plastics. The result is a resin that can closely mimic the color of the existing tooth.


The major advantage of a white filling is that it is less noticeable than a silver one. If necessary, a white filling can restore the shape of a broken tooth because it bonds directly to the surface. For these reasons, it is favored for fillings in the front teeth to maintain the appearance of the patient's smile. A tooth with a white filling may be more stable because less of the tooth's structure is removed. A white filling also tends to cause less sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures than a silver filling made of metals.


White fillings pose a greater risk of recurrent decay forming underneath and causing new cavities. A white filling may need to be replaced because it is not as strong as a silver filling. Dental insurance may not cover a white filling, considering it a cosmetic procedure. It takes longer to place a white filling than a silver one.


According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, 92% of adults develop at least one cavity in a permanent tooth. As a result, general dentistry involves fillings more frequently than many other procedures. Fillings can be either white or silver, depending on the material used. Though each has both disadvantages and advantages, both are effective.

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