Sooner or later, nearly every adult will need to visit their dentist for a dental filling. 96% of Canadian adults have some history of cavities, and most develop more than one in their lifetime.
Dentists typically use one of two options to fill in the spots where a cavity has damaged a tooth: silver or white fillings. This guide will help you learn about each type and give you the information you need to choose the right filling for your dental needs.
The Fundamentals of Silver and White Fillings
Silver Dental Fillings
Silver fillings, also known as amalgam fillings, are made from a combination of metals, including mercury, silver, copper, and tin.
These were once the standard treatment option for dental cavities, but they have declined in popularity since white dental fillings were created. Nevertheless, they have a lot to offer for those who do choose them.
- They are the least expensive way to treat a dental cavity and are covered by most insurance plans, making them a good option for those on a budget.
- They take the least amount of time to place, minimizing the time you spend in the dentist’s chair. They are also easier to place in moist areas around the gumline.
- They are the most durable type of filling, often lasting for decades before needing to be replaced. They perform very well on teeth that experience a lot of pressure during chewing, such as the back molars.
Unfortunately, silver fillings also come with a few significant drawbacks.
- They are not aesthetically pleasing. Many patients become self-conscious with silver fillings in their mouths and may avoid laughing or smiling.
- More tooth structure must be drilled away to anchor them correctly to the tooth. Since you cannot replace your tooth structure and risk losing the tooth if too much is removed, silver fillings are not ideal for large cavities or very damaged teeth.
- They expand and contract in response to the different temperatures inside your mouth, making them more likely to produce cracks in the teeth.
- They are more likely to cause tooth sensitivity, which may impair your ability to enjoy hot or cold food and beverages.
- They contain mercury, a known neurotoxin that is not safe for humans to ingest or be exposed to for long periods. While there is no definitive proof that the mercury in silver fillings is harmful, many people worry about their long-term safety.
White Dental Fillings
White dental fillings are also often called composite fillings. They are made of a hard substance created from quartz, glass, plastic, or ceramic combined with resin. These fillings bond to your tooth structure on a molecular level to create a tight seal that keeps bacteria from entering at the edges of the filling.
White dental fillings offer several advantages that make them a good choice for people who need to treat a cavity in their mouth.
- Their white colour can be customized to match your teeth, making them nearly invisible.
- They bond more easily to the tooth, allowing your dentist to preserve more of your natural tooth structure.
- They are less likely to cause sensitivity problems.
- They contain no materials that are thought to be unsafe for human exposure.
However, they have several drawbacks of their own.
- They do not last as long. White dental fillings may need to be replaced more frequently in response to natural wear and tear.
- They are more costly than silver fillings, and many insurance plans have restrictions for coverage.
An Overview of Dental Fillings
If you have a dental cavity, you have several treatment options to choose from.
Fillings That Look Like Your Teeth
If you are looking for a discreet way to treat your cavities, white dental fillings are the way to go. These fillings come in an incredible range of different shades and can be matched to the exact colour of your teeth.
Crowns That Look Like Your Teeth
When a tooth is badly damaged, a filling may not be enough to repair it. Fortunately, this does not mean that you must sacrifice aesthetics. Crowns made of porcelain, zirconia, or ceramic provide a beautiful look and blend right in with the natural teeth around them.
Affordable, Long-Lasting Fillings
If price and durability are your main concerns, silver fillings are a good choice for you. They may not be as attractive as white dental fillings, but they are less expensive and often hold up better under heavy chewing forces.
Affordable Crowns, Fixed Bridges, and Partials
Metal is also sometimes used to make dental crowns and bridges. These dental prostheses are long-lasting and cost less than their white counterparts. However, they can often be very noticeable in the mouth.
Choosing the Right Type of Fillings
Which type of cavity treatment is right for you? That depends on what you prioritize during the treatment process. White dental fillings are the most popular option at our clinic. Most people appreciate how well they blend in and will often pay a little extra for this benefit.
However, there is also nothing wrong with choosing silver fillings if they suit your needs. There is no solid evidence to suggest that they are harmful, and their excellent durability can sometimes make a big difference to the long-term health of your tooth.
If you need to treat a cavity in your mouth and are not sure which type of filling would be best, ask your dentist. They can evaluate the specifics of your case (including factors like the size and location of your cavity, how much the filling’s appearance matters to you, and your budget) to determine which treatment is best for you. Working with a clinic that offers direct billing will help you figure out which treatments your insurance covers if that is a factor in your decision-making process.
Dental Fillings and Wellness
It is extremely important for you not to think of dental fillings as a purely cosmetic procedure. While there are cosmetic concerns involved in choosing the type of filling you will have placed, the treatment itself is vital to your health and must be carried out as soon as possible. Any significant delays could allow the cavity to get worse. Eventually, it may begin to cause you pain, become infected, develop an abscess, or weaken the tooth enough to break it.
Treating a cavity only becomes more difficult and expensive over time, requiring more trips to the dentist. A severe tooth infection may even become life-threatening. For these reasons, you should never ignore your dentist when they say you need a filling or postpone the treatment by more than a week or two if possible.
If money is a concern, choosing a silver filling over white dental fillings is the best way to make sure you get the treatment you need. If the colour of the filling continues to bother you after it has been placed, you can have your dentist replace it with a white one later. This gives you more time to save up without putting your health at risk.
Get the Dental Fillings You Need at Our Mississauga Office
If you need to treat a cavity, visit Trillium Smile Dentistry. Dr. Tousi is the best dentist in Mississauga, with reviews to prove it. Many of our patients have been with us for years and trust our staff to provide the best care for their teeth. Their continued confidence in us speaks to the excellent quality of our work.