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Cavities are one of the most common types of dental problems that can occur. When plaque and tartar build up on teeth, the eventual result can be a cavity. The cavity needs to be filled to protect the inside of the tooth where the soft pulp and nerves reside.

All cavities used to be filled with a silver-colored metal, but now composite resin that matches the natural tooth color is another option. Which option is better for a cavity filling? It depends on the situation.

Silver Fillings


  • Strength. Silver fillings are made up of a few metals including silver and a small amount of mercury. These metals create a strong alloy that will stand up to chewing and teeth grinding.
  • Faster application. Silver fillings can be placed more quickly, meaning you spend less time in the dentist’s chair.
  • Less expensive. Silver filling material is less expensive than composite resin. That combined with less time in the dental chair means the whole procedure costs less.


  • Contains mercury. Silver fillings do contain a small amount of mercury. However, once it is solidified it is considered to be safe and is approved by the FDA.
  • High visibility. Silver fillings are noticeable, which is why it is not typically used on front teeth. Silver fillings in a back molar are less noticeable, but the filling can turn the enamel gray.
  • Can expand and contract. Metal fillings can expand and contract from consuming cold or hot liquids and foods, which could cause the filling to become loose and eventually fracture the tooth.
  • Unnecessary removal of tooth structure. A silver filling needs to be mechanically locked into the tooth.Therefore a larger filling needs to be placed to allow for this retention.  This results in healthy tooth structure being removed and a much larger filling needed when comparted to a tooth colored filling.

White Fillings 


  • Matches tooth color. The biggest advantage of white fillings is that they match your natural tooth color. The resin can be customized to blend in with your existing teeth.
  • Preserves more healthy tooth enamel. White fillings can fill in smaller spaces more easily, meaning you may not need to have as much of your tooth enamel removed for a cavity filling.
  • Can be used on sides of teeth. Because it blends in with your natural tooth color and can be shaped easily, it can be used on the sides of your teeth to reform the tooth size and shape.


  • Takes longer to apply. Because the filling is bonded to the tooth it can take a bit longer to place white fillings and allow them to solidify.
  • Technique Sensitive. Composite resin needs to be placed in a dry environment, so in areas where saliva can not be controlled it is not ideal.
  • Not as strong as silver fillings. White fillings may not be strong as silver fillings but they still last several years and with proper oral hygiene can last as long as silver fillings without fracturing the tooth.

Conclusion: Both Types Have Their Place 

If you’re trying to decide which type of filling would be best for you it is best to consult with the doctor to see your options.

Blossom Dentistry Provides a Variety of Options for Fillings 

When you need to have a cavity filled, Blossom Dentistry will recommend the best filling material for your situation. We will discuss the pros and cons with you to allow you to make an informed decision.

Call (202) 922-2900 today to schedule a consultation or make an appointment. We look forward to providing you with the best option for cavity fillings.

Contact our office today to schedule your appointment!

2600 Virginia Ave NW Suite 501 Washington, DC 20037
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