How To Choose Between White and Silver Fillings

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how to choose between white and silver fillings

Boiled down to their most basic essentials, cavities are holes. Those holes are left behind by tooth decay destroying enamel on your teeth and by dentists removing that infection from your teeth so the cavities don’t get worse. Fillings are what the dentist uses to fill up those holes so that the tooth is not weakened to the point of fragility by the existence of those cavities.

For hundreds of years dentists have filled cavities with silver amalgam fillings made of a combination of tin, silver, copper and mercury. For a long time, the selection of amalgam fillings wasn’t really a selection at all — it was akin to a default. Today, though, you have a choice when it comes to filling your cavities. Rather than using silver fillings that shine brightly in your mouth, you can choose subtler tooth-coloured fillings made of composite materials that blend naturally with your teeth. Cosmetic issues aside, some people opt for white fillings near you over amalgam fillings out of safety-related concerns. The bottom line, though, is that you now have choices. To help determine what choice is most appropriate for you, take a look at this information about both options before asking a dentist in Kitchener what alternative they recommend.

Tooth-coloured composite fillings

The composite resin and plastic materials used to fill teeth with “white fillings” are also used to make cosmetic changes to the colour and shape of teeth. While composite materials are able to withstand moderate pressure, they’re not appropriate for fillings in teeth exposed to the highest biting pressures — your molars, for example. Composite fillings are most commonly and appropriately used in your front or “smile zone” teeth where cosmetic concerns are highest and biting pressure lowest.

Advantages Disadvantages
Composite or “white” fillings are associated with no health risks White fillings in Kitchener are more expensive than silver fillings because of the materials used and the specialized training required of dentists
Fewer reports of increased tooth sensitivity after getting fillings It takes longer for a dentist in Kitchener to provide composite fillings. Filling a large cavity may require multiple layers and appointments because it takes longer for composite materials to dry and harden than metal fillings
Composite fillings blend naturally with the colour, sheen and texture of your healthy natural teeth  

Silver fillings

Advantages Disadvantages
Cavities can be filled more quickly with silver fillings than with composite fillings Silver fillings expand and contract due to their vulnerability to temperature changes. Those expansions and contractions can cause damage to a tooth
Silver fillings are less expensive than composite fillings More natural tooth tissue is removed when a dentist near you uses silver fillings compared to the use of composite materials
Silver fillings have been used for decades Silver fillings are not subtle, but obvious and unattractive particularly when used in highly visible locations in your jaw
  Amalgam fillings contain mercury which has been associated with health risks
  The older that silver fillings get, the more likely that they will discolour the surrounding enamel of the toth by turning it dull and gray

The Canadian Dental Association describes amalgam fillings as “the most durable and most affordable of all restorative material options.” The Association states that, in the vast majority of cases, there are no harmful health effects associated with exposure to average levels of mercury from amalgam fillings. The Association does advise, though, that amalgam fillings are inappropriate for people allergic to components of the amalgam and allergic to chemical substances or foods like milk or bread. Health Canada recommends against amalgam fillings for individuals with impaired kidney function.

Whether amalgam and/or composite fillings are right for you depends on your medical history, personal circumstances, cosmetic priorities, your budget and the location and size of your cavities. To decide what option is best for you, discuss all those issues and any health concerns with a dentist near you.