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What’s the Difference Between Silver and White Fillings?

If you’re like the majority of Americans, chances are you’ve needed to have a cavity filled at least once in your life, and that’s ok. There are several options for filling a cavity, and they’re all successful at helping to keep your teeth healthy. But while all types of fillings are super strong and can withstand a lot, unfortunately, they don’t last forever. At my St. Joseph dental office, we know the anticipated lifespan of a filling depends on what it’s made out of, so let’s look at the top two types of fillings and examine the pros and cons of each.

Silver Fillings

Also known as amalgam, silver fillings can last between 10 and 15 years. They’re incredibly strong and can withstand years of chewing. Another positive of this type of filling is it’s sometimes cheaper. However, while it has a longer success rate and it may be a bit more gentle on your wallet, there are some negatives to amalgam fillings as well.


  1. They’re less aesthetically pleasing than a tooth-colored option

  2. More of your healthy tooth needs to be removed to make room for the filling

  3. Cracks or chips may be more likely due to expansion and contraction with extreme temperatures in food or drink

  4. There’s been an increase in the concerns regarding the safety of mercury in these fillings

  5. If you’d like more information on this, ask your St. Joseph dentist

Tooth-Colored Fillings

Fillings designed to match the color of your natural teeth are appropriately known as tooth-colored fillings or composite fillings. On average, a composite filling can stay durable for anywhere between 7 to 10 years —sometimes less, sometimes more — depending on your oral hygiene habits. While these restorations typically don’t last as long as silver fillings, there are quite a few benefits behind this better-camouflaged option including no silvery smile, more of your healthy tooth can be saved during treatment, and enhanced strength since the material chemically bonds to the tooth surface. As with anything, there are a few negatives to consider.


  1. Composite fillings may cost a bit more than silver fillings

  2. The appointment may make take a few minutes longer

  3. There’s also a risk for chipping with this type of filling

If you’re in need of a dentist, or believe you may have a cavity, give my St. Joseph dental office a call. We’ll be happy to perform an in-depth exam and diagnose exactly what’s going on in your mouth, if anything. And if we find a cavity, we’ll discuss which filling is most appropriate for you. Schedule your appointment today!

Serving patients from St. Joseph, Kalamazoo, South Bend.

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