White vs. Amalgam Fillings: Does It Matter?

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Dental clinics in Maple Ridge treat fillings by removing the decayed portion of your tooth, then filling that affected area with a new material. In Canada, the most common type of filling is referred to as a “silver filling” because it is silver in colour. Silver fillings are actually made up of an amalgam (a word meaning “mixture”) of metals. For that reason, they’re often called amalgam fillings. “Silver fillings” are not the only filling material available in Canada, though. There are several, including cast gold fillings, composite fillings often called plastic or “white fillings,” glass fillings, and porcelain fillings.

What are the differences between Amalgam and White Fillings?

Amalgam Fillings

Silver fillings are an amalgam of mercury, zinc, silver, tin, and copper. Because silver fillings are very durable and the material hardens quickly, they’re well-suited for teeth that exert and are exposed to the highest pressure (molars, for example) and cavities in the moistest parts of your mouth (below your gums, for example). Silver fillings are also less expensive than white fillings in Maple Ridge.

The Advantages of Amalgam Fillings

  • They are the least expensive option
  • They are the longest-lasting option
  • They can usually be put in place in a single visit to a dentist near you in one stage
  • They are generally covered by dental insurance benefits plans

The Disadvantages of Amalgam Fillings

  • Women who are pregnant should not receive a silver filling until after her child is born, though alternatives may be available in urgent situations
  • Chewing with silver fillings does release miniscule amounts of mercury, though studies indicate the mercury released is at entirely safe levels
  • Silver does not look natural when used to fill a cavity in a visible area of your teeth because silver fillings expand and contract due to heat, they can cause tooth fractures

White Fillings

White fillings are made of metal and ceramic materials. White fillings are very popular for people being treated for cavities in visible parts of the teeth since they’ll match the colour of healthy teeth and will solve tooth decay discreetly. White fillings near you do tend to be weaker and less durable than silver fillings.

The Advantage of White Fillings

  • They are aesthetically more pleasing since they will match your natural teeth.
  • The bonding action of white fillings’ composite materials to the tooth does strengthen the tooth
  • Some patients report less tooth sensitivity and discomfort with white fillings than silver ones

The Disadvantages of White Fillings

  • Receiving white fillings takes longer because they required advanced dental techniques and tools
  • They may not be covered by all dental insurance benefits plans
  • Because of their lower strength and the high pressures of bites at the rear of your mouth, white fillings may not be appropriate in your molars
  • They break more easily than silver fillings and may require replacement more quickly and more often
  • They are more expensive than silver fillings
  • Cavities are more likely to develop underneath a white filling — a phenomenon called recurrent decay — than a silver filling
  • Not all dentists offer white fillings due to the increased training, equipment, and materials required to provide them

Both silver and white fillings have advantages and disadvantages. The essential point you should take away from this is that you have options when considering how to treat cavities and tooth decay. As you and your dentist in Maple Ridge develop a treatment plan for your teeth, ask what types of fillings they provide and recommend for your teeth and your priorities.