White Fillings Versus Silver Fillings: What’s the Difference?

white fillings vs silver fillings

Cavities are common among adult of all ages. If you are one of the many people suffering from cavities, then you need fillings.

How Common are Cavities?

About 35% of people in the world have untreated cavities in their permanent teeth. Meanwhile, there are many individuals who have untreated cavities. Sometimes, they are unaware of the decay that’s occurring in their mouth. At other times, they are aware but choose not to take action.

Unfortunately, untreated cavities can cause serious health issues. They can result in severe infections that spread to other areas of your body. Additionally, they can result in the loss of your permanent teeth.

The Problem with Cavities

In the country of Canada, 4.15 million working days are lost for dental illnesses or dental visits. When the oral health of an individual suffers, their school or work performance also suffers.  It’s important to take care of your teeth in order to avoid other problems.

Fortunately, a little oral care goes a long way. You can prevent severe damage by treating your cavities early on. If you visit your dentist, they can explain your treatment options. However, it is likely that they will offer you some type of fillings.

Before you make your decision, you should learn about white fillings versus silver fillings. Most dental insurance plans cover silver fillings, but not white fillings. But that doesn’t mean white fillings are the best option. Read on to learn more about the benefits of each type of filling.

Benefit Analysis of White Fillings Versus Silver Fillings

Before you analyze the benefits of white fillings versus silver fillings, there are a few basics you should know. Silver fillings are silver in colour and are also known as dental amalgams. When manufacturers produce these filings, they use several metals. Most commonly, they use silver, mercury, and copper.

White fillings, or composite fillings, contain no metal. Instead, they contain ceramic and plastic. Like silver fillings, white fillings can repair your cavities.

Silver Fillings

A close up of a tooth with silver fillings, highlighting silver fillings.

Here are a few of the benefits that come with silver fillings:

1. Durability

When it comes to durability, silver fillings are the winner. They work well on teeth that do the brunt of your chewing. If your molars have cavities, then silver is the way to go. It can withstand the daily use.

2. Flexibility

Because silver fillings contain metal, they harden quicker. This makes it easier for dentists to place them in areas that are moist. Specifically, silver fillings are easier to position under your gum line.

3. Cost

The metals in silver fillings cost less than the materials in white fillings. Additionally, insurance companies tend to only cover silver fillings. As a result, silver fillings are usually the cheaper options.

Silver fillings can also save you money in the long run. Because white fillings require frequent replacement, they require more dental visits and more procedures. Those procedures cost you money. This is especially true if your insurance does not cover white fillings. For a more cost-effective cavity treatment, you might want to consider using silver fillings.

White Fillings

A tooth with a white filling is shown on a background.

Although silver fillings are usually the better option, there are a few benefits to white fillings. Here’s an overview of why you might choose white fillings:

1. Less Visible

If you have a cavity in a visible area of your mouth, you might want a white filling. Silver fillings tend to be noticeable in certain areas. However, white fillings blend in better. They are the same colour as your teeth, which makes them harder to notice.

2. No Mercury

Silver fillings contain mercury, which can be a toxic substance. For that reason, some people prefer white fillings.

However, it’s worth noting that research does not support the claim that silver fillings are harmful to your health. For over 100 years, dentists have used silver fillings to treat cavities. In that time, there has been no evidence to support the fact that the mercury is concentrated enough to cause damage.

The mercury in silver fillings is not the same type of mercury that causes negative health effects. Additionally, the metal binds with other metals, which makes it more stable.

The World Health Organization, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, support the use of silver fillings. However, you can opt for white fillings if you still have doubts about silver fillings.

An Overview of Silver Fillings Versus White Fillings

Overall, the battle between silver fillings versus white fillings ends with a win for silver fillings. The fillings last longer than white ones, which require more frequent replacement. If you do a lot of chewing, your white fillings might not be up to the task.

White fillings also tend to cause further tooth decay. Instead of stopping decay like silver fillings, they can allow decay to continue. You might need fewer dental visits with silver fillings.

One argument against silver fillings is the colour. However, the colour isn’t usually a problem. Cavities most often form in areas that don’t have any visibility. For example, the most common areas that develop cavities are the bottoms of your molars, the gum line, and the edge of your crowns. Therefore, you don’t need to worry about other people seeing your filling.

Which Should You Choose?

If you’re still torn about whether to choose white or silver fillings, you should speak with your dentist. It’s likely that your dentists can advise you on the best option for your needs.

Whether you choose white fillings or silver fillings, one thing is certain. The decision to get a filling can improve your oral health. You can avoid abscesses, further decay, and unnecessary pain.

If you want to prevent poor oral health, you should visit your dentist regularly. At your bi-annual check-up, they can tell you whether or not you have cavities. If you have any, they can determine what treatment methods would work best for you.

Dr Christopher Sims

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