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Comparing Composite (White) and Amalgam (Silver) Fillings

» 10 January 2012 » In Dental News, Teeth Health, Teeth Whitening »

Keep Your Teeth Healthy and Your Enamel White by Understanding the Difference Between Composite and Amalgam Fillings

Composite white teeth fillings for cavities by dentist in Arlington Texas, William Miller However conscientiously a person may care for their teeth, sometimes cavities do happen, and a visit to the dentist for a filling brings up the question: Which type of filling, amalgam (silver) or composite (white) is best for the tooth? Because composite fillings tended to be more expensive than amalgam fillings and often health insurance wouldn’t cover the cost, a person faced with the choice would choose silver fillings out of necessity. After reviewing the options with an experienced Dallas, Texas dentist, Dr. William H. Miller, it was explained that times have changed since composite fillings were first introduced. Now that more research has been done on the benefits of composite filling and its use is widespread, it is more affordable and often covered by health insurance. Choosing between an amalgam and composite filling no longer has to be based on affordability, but rather on health, efficiency, and cosmetic appeal.

Health Benefits of Composite Fillings
When a dentist uses amalgam filling to fill a cavity, he needs to make sure that the hole in the tooth is large enough to receive the amalgam filling, and often this results in his having to remove healthy parts of the tooth to make room. Also, an amalgam filling does not bond with the surrounding tooth, so the dentist needs to create grooves or undercuts within the healthy tooth to help the filling stay in place. Composite fillings have been found to bond with the tooth, essentially “sticking,” creating a stronger seal with the tooth, without the dentist having to remove any of the surrounding tooth. While amalgam filling looks like silver, it’s actually a mixture of silver, zinc, tin, copper, and mercury. Mercury makes up almost 50% of amalgam, and though research shows that mercury poisoning from amalgam fillings isn’t a cause for concern, some individuals may wish to avoid it anyway.


Efficiency of Composite Fillings
There are a few areas where amalgam fillings may seem more appealing, regarding the time the fillings last and the time spent in the dentist chair receiving the filling. Composite fillings will usually last at least about 5 years, while amalgam fillings last 7 years. Although a composite filling may have a shorter life span, it is important to remember that the composite filling actually binds to the tooth, enabling it to reinforce the healthy tooth. Another respect which must be considered is that the dental technique used to place an amalgam filling in a tooth is a simpler method than the technique used to place a composite filling. The result is shorter time spent in the dentist chair for an amalgam filling, and possibly longer time in the chair for a composite filling. “Although some procedures may be more complex than others, experience leads to competence, and as the use of composite fillings have increased, the time it takes to place a composite filling is dramatically faster than when the technique was first introduced,” says Dr. William Miller, a dentist in Dallas, Texas. With this consideration, the gap between the time efficiency of an amalgam filling and a composite filling is decreased.

Cosmetic Appeal of Composite Fillings
As dental technology has advanced, techniques have been upgraded, and health issues have been addressed, for a great many people the choice between amalgam or composite fillings comes down to which looks the most natural and attractive. Because composite fillings are white, they easily blend into the surrounding tooth, and the filling becomes basically undetectable. An amalgam filling is silver in color and therefore is quite visible when contrasted with the surrounding teeth. It is possible for a person to choose to use composite fillings in front, where the teeth are more visible, and amalgam fillings in the hard-to-see back molars. Because composite fillings are white, they do tend to stain over time and cannot be bleached by teeth-whitening products. However, when compared to a silver filling, even a discolored composite filling blends better with the natural color of teeth.

The Deciding Factor When Requiring a Dental Procedure
Both composite and amalgam fillings are found to have advantages and disadvantages, so it mostly comes down to the preferences and priorities of the person sitting in the dentist chair. While one individual may desire the assurance of their filling lasting 7 years, it may be best for them to choose amalgam. If a person wants to keep their healthy tooth intact and wants a natural-looking filling, than a composite filling is best. It is important to keep in mind that dentists are continually researching and perfecting their skills, so even though composite fillings are relatively new compared to amalgam fillings, they have been used extensively and for many reasons found to be an excellent material for filling a pesky cavity. The most important consideration when deciding on a dental procedure is to be sure of your dentist’s experience and commitment to excellence. By choosing a qualified and reputable dentist to meet dental needs, there is assurance that regardless of what procedure is chosen, it will be completed carefully and skillfully.

Dallas Dental Office News Update, By Dallas Texas Dentist, William H. Miller
Woodhill Medical Park, 8305 Walnut Hill Lane, Suite 235, Dallas, Texas, 75231
Phone: (214) 692-1050

Dr. Miller


Dr. William H. Miller, D.M.D. has been practicing dentistry in Texas since 1985. For over 30 years, he has had a passion for personalized, quality care dentistry. He has been in the DFW area his entire career and is conveniently located on Walnut Hill Lane across from Presbyterian Hospital in North Dallas. His office offers a wide range of dental services that include crowns, bridges, implant services, dentures, root canals, fillings, cosmetic dentistry and other restorative procedures. [more]

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