Which filling? Amalgam or white composite?

3rd February 2019 | Posted by: SpaDental Administrator

What’s the choice? What are fillings made of?

white composite fillings are placed using a drill like this one shown.

White fillings require less drilling.

Most people will need fillings at some point in their lives, and, thanks to improvements in technology, many patients are now choosing white composite fillings, rather than traditional silver fillings made from amalgam. Indeed, in private dentistry white fillings are the default choice and amalgam fillings are only used when placing a white filling is not possible.

The NHS now ensures children only have white fillings unless there is a clinical reason for having to place amalgam, which the dentist must document. Adults receiving NHS treatment, however, are offered white fillings in front teeth, but amalgam is placed in back teeth.

Did you know?

Dentists also use the material for white fillings to make small repairs to the edges of teeth? It doesn’t just have to go in the middle of a tooth. If you have an uneven line on the bottom edge of a tooth, or a chip missing, then a dentist can bond composite onto the tooth so that the join is often not even noticeable. Composite bonding repairs minor damage (helping to prevent dental decay) and makes an aesthetic difference too.

Ask your dentist if composite bonding could improve the appearance of your teeth.

Fantastic smile make over – Even though it was only a small bit of bonding over two teeth it has changed my smile and given me so much confidence. Thank you. ZB – a SpaDental Plymouth patient

There are many benefits to white composite fillings:

Advantages of white fillings:

Disadvantages of white fillings:

Although most patients would rather choose white fillings, there are some disadvantages:

What are amalgam or silver fillings made of?

Dental amalgam is a mixture of mercury, silver, tin and copper. A necessary component, mercury binds the amalgam together so it moulds into the cavity. Nowadays, legislation restricts the use of amalgam in children’s teeth. In addition, amalgam fillings are in capsules for safety, and dental chairs have amalgam separators to prevent pollution of the environment.

What are white or tooth-coloured fillings made of?

a woman in the dentists chair having a white composite filling using a special purple light.

Using an LED light to fix composite fillings.

White or tooth-coloured fillings can be made of a number of materials, including synthetic and ceramic compounds, and glass particles. Your dentist can tell you more about the specific types of materials the practice uses, and the light used to bond them.

Are amalgam or silver fillings stronger than white or tooth-coloured fillings?

Although white fillings once had a reputation for being less hardwearing, technology has moved on rapidly over the last decade, and white fillings are now much stronger. The additional benefits mean white fillings are increasingly the first choice for people who need their teeth filled.

Should I replace my silver or amalgam fillings with white fillings?

That depends. Many people decide to wait until their amalgam filling needs replacing, whereas others choose to go ahead and replace them immediately. Your dentist may recommend replacing the largest amalgam fillings first. Your dentist will be able to advise you.

If you can avoid the need to have a filling, that’s the best option!

Whenever you can, if you care for children help them to have healthy teeth with no fillings!

Remember – it is important to visit the dentist regularly to make sure cavities can be detected and treated as soon as possible.

POSTED IN: Filling


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Updated: 2nd August 2020

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