Difference Between White Fillings & Amalgam Fillings

Dental technology has advanced enormously over the past two decades, and today there is a large range of choices, for patients and dentists alike, when it comes to filling cavities. We offer a choice of materials for fillings: resin-based composites, which we see as ‘white’ fillings, and dental amalgam, a more traditional filling, silver in colour and comprised of a mixture of metals.

White Fillings

Resin Composites mimic the appearance of natural teeth, and are made of ceramic and plastic compounds. Used in front teeth for years, technology has improved the strength of these composites enough to be used in the back teeth, where they’re subject to heavy-duty grinding and chewing.

The obvious advantage of white fillings is that they are more aesthetically pleasing when visible in the mouth, as there is minimal contrast between the filling material and the tooth itself.

When the cosmetic effect is important, white resin composite fillings are often used on the six teeth at the front of the mouth (incisors and cuspids), and on the outward-facing surface of the next two teeth (bicuspids). The patient has a choice for molars; they may choose the material they prefer.

Composite fillings can be trickier to place, as the tooth must be completely dried out in preparation for placement, and the filling has to ‘cure’. They are also more expensive than amalgam fillings.

Amalgam Fillings

Amalgam is the more recognisable ‘silver’ filling, and dental amalgam is made up of a mixture of metals including tin, silver and copper.

Dental amalgams are highly durable and have been favoured over resin for use in the molars, where they get a lot of wear. They’re also used for cavities that go below the gum line, and are easier to place in areas that are hard for the dentist to dry out for the procedure.

Amalgam is considered a highly reliable, very strong, low-maintenance option for fillings, and generally has a longer life than resin. It’s a stronger choice of material for back teeth; easy for dentists to manipulate and is more cost-effective, although less aesthetically pleasing, than resin composite fillings.

Choice of Filling

The choice is ultimately that of the patient, and your dentist at Crescent Dental will advise you on the nature and longevity of the filling. The size, nature and location of the cavity will be another deciding factor, and your dentist will discuss the options with you, explaining the kind of pressure your filling will endure and the details of the cavity-filling procedure itself.