Apr-Anglis-Fillings-headerAre the fillings in your teeth metal or tooth colored? When it comes to metal vs. tooth colored fillings Michigan City residents often ask us what the differences are.  So today, we’re going to address the topic. 


When we fill a cavity, we first remove the decay, thoroughly clean the area, and fill the cavity with a filling material. A good filling will last anywhere from 5 to 50 years, so if they’re going to be in your mouth for that long, it’s fair enough to want to know what they’re made of and how they compare to other types of fillings.


The two most common filling materials we use are silver amalgam (metal) fillings and tooth-colored composite fillings. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each filling type and why we sometimes choose one over the other.


Silver Amalgam Fillings


If you have metal fillings in your mouth, chances are they’re silver amalgam fillings. They last a long time, but they do require the removal of more tooth structure.  Following are some more facts about silver amalgam fillings.


  • Silver amalgam fillings are sturdy, so they last a long time. They are a tried-and-true option that last a long time in most patients; in fact, you just can’t beat their longevity!


  • Silver amalgam can be easier to place because the material is very forgiving in environments where other fillings cannot be placed. For example, most filling materials need a dry environment to be effectively bonded to your tooth, but metal fillings can be inserted even if your tooth is wet.


  • When placing silver amalgam fillings, we need to remove more tooth structure to ensure a long lasting filling. Removing less natural tooth structure is generally better when possible.
  • Amalgam fillings aren’t like your natural teeth – they expand and contract differently than the tooth itself, so we sometimes see cracks in the natural tooth around a silver filling.


  • Many people are concerned about the small amount of mercury in silver amalgam fillings, but the American Dental Association (ADA) says there’s no need to worry and they stand by research that supports that metal fillings are safe.


So What About Tooth-Colored Fillings Michigan City?


Today, more and more patients are opting for tooth-colored fillings because they look more natural and don’t require the removal of as much tooth structure. Here’s what you should know.


  • Composite fillings can save more tooth structure.
  • Tooth-colored composite fillings are great because they look natural and bond directly to the tooth.
  • Composite fillings don’t put you at risk for cracks in adjacent natural tooth structure the way amalgams do.
  • Composite fillings are repairable – if there’s a problem with a small area of a tooth colored fillings, we can remove and replace just that part without replacing the entire filling. If there were a problem with even a small part of your amalgam filling, we’d have to remove the whole thing.
  • Composite fillings have to be placed in a dry tooth. As you can imagine, this can be a challenge in a wet mouth environment!
  • Composite fillings are more complicated. Filling a cavity with tooth colored fillings requires many more steps and products. It’s also much more technique sensitive.
  • Composite fillings haven’t been around as long – they’re still a relatively new development compared to silver fillings.


Which Material is Right for You?


If you think you may have a cavity, the best thing you can do is to call us for an appointment today before the decay gets worse. The earlier you catch cavities, the more options you have!


If it’s determined that you need to have a cavity filled, we can discuss your options, answer your questions, and help you decide which material is right for you.   For metal and tooth colored fillings Michigan City residents trust the expert care provided in our office.