Silver fillings which are technically referred to as amalgam, have been used since around 1830. When an amalgam filling is planned for a tooth, the material is mixed and then packed into the area where the cavity was. Over about 24 hours, the filling sets and reaches its full hardness. The benefits of silver fillings are that they are less prone to decay at the edge of the filling and that they can tolerate moisture when being placed.
Composites, or tooth colored fillings, have several advantages such as fewer tooth fractures, are more conservative, the filling is bonded to the tooth and of course, cosmetics as they look natural.
White fillings must be glued or bonded to the tooth. This essentially makes the tooth and filling one. Generally this makes the tooth less prone to breaking and cracking. Silver fillings are not usually bonded to the tooth, hence why we see many more broken teeth that have amalgam fillings.
When there is decay in a tooth and a white filling is planned, the only portion of tooth that needs to be removed is the decayed area. With a silver filling, there must be mechanical grooves cut into the tooth to hold the filling in.
Composites are not just white but they come in many shades of white. We have about 15 different shades and translucencies in our office to match your tooth.
Dr. Jordan believes that both composites and amalgam have a place in dentistry. However, most of the restorations he places are composites.