What are the advantages and disadvantages of replacing silver fillings with tooth-colored fillings?

If you are like 90% of adults, you have had a cavity on at least one permanent tooth. There are different ways to fill these cavities, and each has its benefits. While tooth-colored fillings are more inconspicuous than silver fillings, is it worth it to replace your silver fillings with tooth-colored ones? Keep reading to find out what some of our readers think.
Dr. Ambika Amini

Dr. Ambika Amini

Founder of .

Immediate Setting After Placement, Expensive

Replacing silver fillings with tooth-colored fillings offers several advantages. The most obvious is the improvement in appearance. Tooth-colored fillings blend seamlessly with the natural shade of your teeth, making them far less noticeable, especially in visible areas of your mouth.

Another benefit of tooth-colored (composite) fillings is their use of chemical bonding to the tooth structure for retention, unlike silver fillings that rely on mechanical retention. This means that less of the healthy tooth tissue needs to be removed for tooth-coloured filling preparation. The bonding process also provides extra support to the tooth.

One advantage of tooth-colored fillings is that they are fully set immediately after placement, allowing you to eat and drink right away, (taking into consideration any numbness caused by local anesthesia). On the other hand, silver fillings take approximately 24 hours to fully set, during which time you should follow a soft diet and avoid chewing on that side of your mouth.

There are also some disadvantages that should be considered before opting for tooth-colored fillings over silver fillings. Firstly, composite fillings tend to be more expensive. They also require more frequent replacement as they may shrink, wear down, or become stained over time. They are also more prone to chipping compared to silver fillings.

While tooth-colored fillings initially provide a more aesthetic appearance, they can wear and stain over time, particularly if you regularly consume coffee, tea, or red wine. Staining can often be removed, but regular maintenance is necessary to keep the fillings looking their best.

Placement of tooth-colored fillings requires more meticulous technique as the tooth must remain dry, and any moisture from saliva or water can compromise the filling’s strength and success. This means that the process of placing tooth-colored fillings takes longer compared to silver fillings.

It’s worth noting that when silver fillings are removed, they release some mercury into the air, which can potentially be hazardous. However, studies have shown that the amount of mercury released is minimal and does not pose a significant risk. Nonetheless, it is advisable to remove silver fillings with the tooth fully isolated and to avoid such procedures during pregnancy.

Reduced Risk of Fracture, Less Durable

When it comes to considering the advantages and disadvantages of replacing silver fillings with tooth-colored fillings, there are important factors to consider. One key advantage of tooth-colored fillings is their aesthetic appeal. Unlike silver fillings that stand out when you smile, tooth-colored fillings seamlessly blend in with the natural color of your teeth, giving you a more attractive and natural-looking smile.

Another benefit is that tooth-colored fillings are typically made of composite resin, which bonds directly to the tooth structure, providing better support and reducing the risk of fractures that can occur with silver fillings. Additionally, tooth-colored fillings require less removal of healthy tooth structure, preserving more of your natural tooth.

There are, however, a few potential disadvantages to consider. Tooth-colored fillings may be more expensive than silver fillings due to the materials and techniques involved. The placement process for tooth-colored fillings may also take more time, as it involves layering and curing the composite resin. It’s important to note that tooth-colored fillings may not be as durable as silver fillings, particularly in high-stress areas like back molars. Nevertheless, advancements in dental materials have significantly improved the strength and longevity of tooth-colored fillings.

Ultimately, the decision to replace silver fillings with tooth-colored fillings depends on individual preferences and specific dental needs. Consulting with a dentist who can evaluate your oral health and discuss the options in detail is crucial. They can provide personalized guidance and help you make an informed decision that aligns with your goals for a healthier and more confident smile.

Susan Anderson

Susan Anderson

Founder of .
Rhys Charles

Rhys Charles

Founder and CEO of .

Improved Aesthetic, Costly


    1. Improved aesthetics. Tooth-colored fillings are made of composite resins that can be matched to the natural color of your teeth, making them virtually unnoticeable. This is a great advantage over traditional silver amalgam fillings. The silver fillings often appear dark and stand out against other teeth in the mouth, making for an unattractive smile.

    2. Strong bonds. Composite resins form strong bonds with the tooth enamel.


    1. Cost. Tooth-colored fillings are more expensive than silver ones. As they require special materials and techniques to achieve the desired aesthetic result. This can make them cost prohibitive for some people who may not be able to afford it.

    2. Durability. Silver fillings are generally considered to be more durable than tooth-colored ones. They will last longer in the mouth before needing repair or replacement again due to wear and tear over time compared with composite resin (tooth-colored) filling material. Tooth-colored resin is subject to breakage or cracking if exposed to too much stress, such as grinding of teeth during sleep.

    3. Time required to place fillings. Unlike silver amalgam fillings that take a few minutes for placement, placing tooth-colored filling involves several steps. These steps include etching the enamel surface so the bonding agent bonds well, applying an adhesive layer on etched enamel, followed by placement and a curing light activation of the actual filling material. This makes the overall procedure lengthy and time consuming.

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