White vs. Amalgam Fillings: Which are Right for Me?

If you’re one of the 91% of Americans over the age of 20 who have had a cavity, you know what it’s like to visit the dentist’s office and walk out with a filling.

The question is, what type of filling is best for someone with a cavity? Will it be a standard metal filling, or maybe a white one to match your teeth?

The answer is: it depends. At Portrait Dental in Katy, Texas, we use both options for patients who need a filling. The choice of which filling to use depends on your individual situation. Here’s what we’re thinking about as we make the decision.

What is an amalgam filling?

Amalgam, or silver, fillings have been around since 1895. They’re made of a combination of mercury, tin, silver, and copper; the mercury is about 50% of the mix and binds the other metals together.

Amalgam fillings are strong and durable (you don’t have to worry about cracking them with tough or hard food), and they have a long, proven history to back them up. They usually last 10-15 years, which means you replace them much less often than other fillings. They’re the least expensive option as well.

On the downside, their silver color makes them much more noticeable than composite fillings, and they can lead to cracks in your teeth. Some people are sensitive to the metals, as well.

What is a white filling?

A white, or composite, filling is made of a plastic and ceramic compound that mimics the appearance of natural teeth and blends right into your normal teeth. The resin is flexible so it bonds more easily to your teeth and lets you leave more of the natural tooth.

While many people automatically choose white fillings, they only last 5-7 years (about half the lifespan of amalgam fillings), they take longer to install, and they generally cost more than amalgam.

Which filling is right for me?

The decision of which type of filling is best for you should take into account several factors, including the size and location of the cavity, your cosmetic concerns, the time frame you have available, and your regular oral hygiene.

Thanks to his years of experience, our dentist, Dr. Minh Nguyen, is very skilled at determining the best filling for your situation. Just call the office or use our online scheduler to set up an appointment. We’ll help your teeth get back to normal as soon as possible.

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