10 Questions to help you decide between silver or white fillings:
Having read the pros and cons of silver and white fillings, it’s now time to decide which one to use for your back teeth. Here is a list of question to better help you decide whether to choose silver or white fillings to fix your back teeth. Please answer each question with either a “yes” or “no“:
- Are you extremely health conscious?
- Do you avoid toxic products at all costs? Even if something has not been definitively been proven to harm your health.
- Are you allergic to any metals?
- Do you like to take lots of pictures? Are you a self-proclaimed photographer or obsessed with taking selfies when showing your teeth?
- Do you expect your smile to look perfectly white when smiling or taking photographs?
- Is your smile line very wide? Basically you show your back teeth when smiling.
- Can you afford the extra upgrade fees?
- Are you okay with going back to the dentist to have your filling redone every ten years or so if needed?
- If the filling is for a back tooth, is it small or medium sized?
- Are you able to sit in the dental chair for half-an-hour to an hour while your dentist fills your tooth?
Good candidate for white fillings (Composite)
If you answered “yes” to most of the above questions then white fillings are a good choice for you.
Questions 1 through 6: Esthetic and health concerns
The main reason people prefer white fillings over silver fillings is the superior look as well as lack of mercury. Many people don’t even want to show silver and metal in their mouth, even if it is all the way in the back of their mouth. Others have concerns regarding mercury in fillings and feel that it can adversely impact their health. If either of these scenarios apply to you, then we highly recommend you come up with the extra copay and receive white fillings instead of silver ones.
Questions 7: Extra costs
White fillings usually cost more than silver ones do. But not that much more. Keep in mind that you’re going to have these fillings in your mouth for a very long time. Try not to let the financial part hold you back as we’re talking about something that is going to be there for a very long time. You can always talk to your dentist about doing your fillings in segments. This allows you to pay for them off over the course of several weeks or months. If you really want white fillings, you should be able to afford them. Most dentists nowadays will work with you to make this happen, so long as you ask them.
Question 8: Maintenance
White fillings require more frequent do overs than silver ones do. However, the newer generation of composites and resins are very durable and strong. If you take good care of your teeth and get your regular dental cleanings, a white filling may last you as long as a silver one after all.
Question 9: Cavity size
White fillings work very well for small to medium sized cavities on your back teeth. However, when it comes to very large fillings, they do show some limitations. Since your back teeth are used to chew up food particles, a lot of force is placed onto them. If you require a very large filling on a back tooth, white fillings are typically not a very good option. They aren’t strong enough to support the constant biting force exerted onto weaker posterior teeth. This can undermine your tooth structure and lead to tooth fracture. Very large white fillings often times tend to break, leak or trap food particles.
Silver fillings actually work better in these circumstances. They can handle larger fillings and have less problems dealing with your bite pressure. However, if you still insist on staying away from Amalgam, then you should look into other alternatives such as inlays or onlays instead.
Question 10: Cooperation Level
White fillings require a dry environment or they will fail. This means you must sit still and open up wide until your dentist finishes your work. If you can’t do this, then you can’t get white fillings and should go for silver ones instead. Here are some cases where lack of cooperation makes silver fillings the better treatment option:
Silver fillings are a better option than white fillings for non-cooperative children. Especially the ones a high cavity count. If your child can not sit still and keeps moving, it’s impossible to establish a dry working environment. Placing white fillings on an uncooperative pediatric patients is very difficult and the fillings are very likely to fail. Silver fillings perform much better than white ones in these circumstances. Also keep in mind that since baby teeth will be lost and replaced soon, these silver fillings are only going to be there on a temporarily basis. Of course, that is assuming the fillings were placed on baby teeth and not adult ones.
Physically or mentally handicapped adults
Silver fillings are also a good option for noncooperative adults, such as those with severe physical or mental disabilities. Severely autistic or mentally retarded adults may not be able to properly behave when receiving needs in the dental chair. This makes it harder to perform white fillings. On the other hand, physically handicapped adults may have a harder time maintaining adequate oral hygiene by themselves. Since silver fillings are more durable and resilient, it might just be better to go with silver fillings over white ones for them as well.
Good candidate for silver fillings (Amalgam)
If you answered “no” to most of the above questions then you should consider sticking with silver fillings. There are still many circumstances where receiving silver fillings makes more sense than white ones.
Final Thought on silver or white fillings
Nowadays many dentists discourage placing silver fillings and charge reasonable upgrade fees to make receiving white fillings possible for everyone. We like white fillings for front and back teeth since they look better and are also a healthier option. At the end of the day, it’s up to you if you want silver or white fillings.
Technology associated with composites has come a long way in the last few decades. As a result the gap between successful outcome of a well-placed white and silver filling has substantially narrowed down. If you take good care of your teeth, a white filling should last you just as long as a silver one would. Choose the fillings that you prefer and has worked better for you in the past.
Advantages of silver fillings (Amalgam) over white fillings
Advantages of white fillings (Composite) over silver fillings