Most adults will have dental fillings of some sort or another. A trip to the dentist for a regular check-up is often a cause of anxiety over whether another cavity will be spotted and yet another appointment scheduled for a filling. If this is the case for you, why should you consider white fillings over amalgam? Is one better than the other, or are white fillings only chosen for cosmetic reasons? Let’s take a look at your options regarding they type of fillings to choose and why the choice may not be as straightforward as you think.

White Fillings

With advancements in dental technology, these days fillings can be completely natural looking. Gone are the days where there was no other choice but to take a silver filling. For those people who are conscious about their smile, white fillings are a great option because they don’t show when you laugh or smile.

But white fillings are expensive, right?

You may be surprised to learn that white fillings are not as expensive as you may think. Costs do vary quite a lot between dentists, but the costs are usually affected more by the size and type of filling material used and how complicated the treatment will be. Quite often the actual costs come from the time it takes your dentist to perform the work rather than the filling itself. If you are concerned about the costs of opting for a white filling, discuss this with your dentist at your check-up before going ahead and booking your treatment. Your dentist should be able to give you a rough idea of costs before you agree to anything.

Is there a Difference in Quality?

White fillings have always been considered to be less durable than silver amalgam. However, with the advancements in material development used in dentistry, there are now new dental materials available that are standing the test of time and are proving to be just as durable as amalgam. The average lifespan of a white filling will depend greatly on where it is placed in the mouth, as well as how strong a bite you have and the types of food you eat. People with a habit of grinding their teeth during sleep can also expect to get less wear from their fillings. The lifespan of any filling, regardless of composition, cannot be exactly predicted, but your dentist should be able to give you a rough idea depending on the position of the filling.

Should I replace my old amalgam fillings with white ones?

There is a big trend currently for people swapping amalgam fillings for white ones. Some people are doing this for purely cosmetic reasons, but others are replacing them over concerns for their health because amalgam fillings contain a small amount of mercury.  Most dentists suggest that it is usually best to change your fillings as and when old fillings have become loose or have been lost. When this is the case you can ask to have your filling replaced with a more natural tooth-coloured shade filling. However, most dentist will prefer not to put white fillings into back teeth where amalgams would be more suitable.

What are fillings made from?

Most NHS dentists use dental amalgam for fillings. This is made from a mixture of mercury, silver, tin and copper. Amalgam fillings are usually used the most to fill cavities in back teeth because they are more hard-wearing and your back teeth are used more often during chewing and mastication.

Dentist these days are more aware of the cosmetic need for a healthy smile so will usually offer up the type of filling that is most appropriate for your clinical needs. This means that they will usually offer white fillings for front teeth and amalgam for back teeth.

White fillings are made of a composite that includes powdered glass and ceramic added to a resin base. They can be matched in colour to your existing teeth and can look completely natural, yet are considered not as strong as amalgam. Fillings can also be made using glass ionomer. This is made from powdered glass and will chemically bond with your tooth to give a natural look. However, this filling material is usually only used as a temporary measure because it is considered too weak for long-term use. This is commonly used to fill cavities in milk teeth.