Metal vs. Tooth-Colored Fillings

November 1, 2012 — by Stephen Lipman
Tags: Dental Fillings Dental Crowns Inlays Onlays Cosmetic Dentistry

Metal fillings are no longer your only option for dental filling treatment. Windsor cosmetic dentist Stephen D. Lipman understands the importance of a pristine smile; this is why he offers tooth-colored dental fillings. Here are some things to consider when deciding between metal dental fillings versus tooth-colored dental fillings.

Metal Dental Fillings

Metal has traditionally been the material of choice for dental fillings. Here are some of the pros and cons of metal dental fillings:

  • Silver Amalgam: Silver amalgam is the most commonly used material for dental fillings. Silver is both inexpensive and extremely durable. Though silver amalgam fillings are the most common, their use in the United States is waning due to the many drawbacks of the material. Silver amalgam can create cracks in the filled tooth due to its tendency to expand and contract when exposed to fluctuations in temperature. They are also prone to discoloring the surrounding tooth; over time, teeth with silver fillings may turn a grayish color. The biggest disadvantage to silver amalgam fillings is the poor aesthetic appearance. Silver amalgam fillings are dark and stand out in an otherwise white tooth.
  • Gold: Though many people consider gold fillings to be more aesthetically pleasing than silver amalgam fillings, they are still noticeable within a white tooth. Gold also has the disadvantage of being expensive. On the plus side, gold makes for an extremely long lasting material for dental fillings. Gold fillings can last as long as 15 years.

Tooth-Colored Fillings

Tooth-colored fillings are gaining popularity as they are both durable and cosmetically pleasing. Here are some things to consider when comparing tooth-colored fillings to metal fillings:

  • Ceramic: Ceramic fillings are extremely durable, lasting 15 years or longer. Ceramic fillings are custom shaded to blend perfectly with the surrounding tooth. Ceramic fillings require less healthy tooth structure to be removed than metal fillings, helping to maintain the tooth's strength. Ceramic fillings are more expensive than silver fillings and may cost as much as gold fillings.
  • Composite Resin: Composite resin fillings, like ceramic fillings, are custom colored for a seamless blend. Composite resin fillings do not last as long as metal or ceramic fillings. Composite resin fillings generally last for five to 10 years and are more expensive than silver amalgam fillings. However, composite resin fillings bond directly to the damaged tooth. This preserves more of the tooth than with metal fillings.

Alternative Tooth-Colored Restoration Treatments

There are other tooth-colored treatments available when dental fillings may not be suitable. Here are a few other treatments to restore the appearance and strength of damaged teeth:

  • Dental Bonding: Minor decay and small fractures can be repaired with cosmetic dental bonding.
  • Inlays and Onlays: Inlays and onlays are used to treat dental decay occurring within the cusps of the molars. Inlays are for treating smaller areas of decay, whereas onlays are used to treat decay that extends to the cusps.
  • Porcelain Crowns: Teeth with major damage may be salvaged with a dental crown. Porcelain dental crowns are customized for a perfect fit and shade. For our patients in Windsor, dental crowns are a wonderful treatment to add strength to damaged teeth while restoring aesthetics.

Schedule a Consultation with Dr. Lipman

You have many options when it comes to dental restoration. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Lipman to discuss your treatment options.