What are the alternatives to getting a silver dental filling?


The alternatives that have emerged to silver amalgam dental fillings are stronger and more aesthetic, they can strengthen teeth and they can last longer. Watch dental expert Gerry Curatola, DDS, describe the benefits of these alternative materials.

There are several alternatives to a silver filling. A composite filling is one alternative. A composite filling is a resin or plastic filling that is tooth colored. A porcelain inlay or onlay is another alternative. A crown may be an alternative to a large filling. Your dentist can best advise you as to your dental conditions and recommended treatment. Your dentist can also advise you as to the advantages and disadvantages of the materials available to fix your tooth.

Romesh Nalliah
The most common alternative to a silver dental filling is a white composite filling. However, it is important to listen to the advise of your dentist. Large composite fillings don't last as long as large amalgam fillings. If a filling is very large and an amalgam is recommended by your dentist, a composite may not be an ideal alternative and porcelain inlays or onlays could be considered. 
Todd A. Welch, DMD
Composite resin fillings are a mixture of glass or quartz filler in a resin medium that produces a tooth-colored filling. Also referred to as composites or filled resins, they match teeth, transmit light well and can make imperceptible tooth restorations; however, they are subject to stain and discoloration over time. They provide good durability and resistance to fracture in small- to mid-size restorations that need to withstand moderate chewing pressure. Composites can also be physically bonded to tooth structure, often allowing a more conservative repair. Their cost is moderate depending upon size.

Glass ionomers are translucent, tooth-colored materials made of a mixture of acrylic acids and fine glass powders that are used to fill cavities, particularly those on the root surfaces of teeth. When the dentist prepares the tooth for a glass ionomer, less tooth structure can be removed, often resulting in a smaller filling than that of an amalgam. They are primarily used in areas not subject to heavy chewing pressure. And because they have a low resistance to fracture, glass ionomers are mostly used in those fillings between teeth or on tooth roots. They also release a small amount of fluoride that may be beneficial for teeth with high risk for decay.

Resin ionomers are also made from glass filler with acrylic acids, fine glass powders and acrylic resin. They are used for very small fillings between teeth and are only moderately resistant to fracture, making them useful in non-biting surface areas like tooth root surfaces. Both glass and resin ionomers mimic natural tooth color but lack the natural translucency of enamel and experience high wear when placed on chewing surfaces. They are well tolerated by patients with only rare instances of allergic reaction.

The ultimate decision about what to use and when is best determined in a consultation with your dentist. You should discuss your concerns and the risks/benefits of all filling materials available, including your susceptibility to tooth decay, so that you maintain optimal oral health
There are several alternatives to getting a silver dental filling, also known as an amalgam filling. Silver dental fillings are one of the most popular types of fillings because of their durability and lower cost. The material is a combination of several metals. Silver fillings are commonly used in the back teeth. Like silver, gold alloy fillings are also made with several metals and have excellent durability. Like silver, they don’t match tooth color either. A composite filling is a tooth-colored product made from a mixture of acrylic resin and powdered glass-like particles. Composite fillings are good for when you want the filling to match your natural tooth color. It has a good durability as well. Porcelain fillings, also known as ceramic fillings, can also match tooth color, but they are not as good for molars because they can crack under pressure. They also are expensive and need at least two appointments to complete.

Continue Learning about Dental Fillings

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.