Comparison of Filling Materials

There are a number of choices available to restore your tooth.  Each type of material has its own advantages and disadvantages. As clinicians, we try to guide you towards what we see as the best choice for long-term restoration of your teeth. 

Silver-fillings (Amalgams)


  • Durability – lasts at least 10 to 15 years and usually outlasts composite fillings, especially in the back teeth.
  • Strength – can withstand chewing forces
  • Expense – is less expensive than composite fillings


  •  Poor aesthetics – fillings don’t match the color of your natural teeth
  • Discoloration – amalgam fillings can create a grayish hue to the surrounding tooth structure
  • Cracks and fractures – although all teeth expand and contract in the presence of hot and cold liquids, which ultimately can cause the tooth to crack or fracture, amalgam material – in comparison with other filling materials–may experience a wider degree of expansion and contraction and lead to a higher incidence of cracks and fractures over a period of time.


Tooth-colored composite fillings


  • Aesthetics – the shade/color of the composites can be closely matched to the color of existing teeth; is particularly well suited for use in front teeth or visible parts of teeth
  • Bonding to tooth structure – composite fillings actually chemically bond to tooth structure.
  • Versatility in uses – in addition to use as a filling material for decay, composite fillings can also be used to repair chipped, broken or worn teeth


  • Lack of durability – composite fillings wear out sooner than amalgams (lasting at least 5 years compared with at least 10 to 15 for amalgams); in addition, they may not last as long as amalgams under the pressure of chewing and particularly if used as the filling material for large cavities
  • Increased chair time – because of the process to apply the composite material, these fillings can take longer to place
  • Additional visits – if composites are used for inlays or onlays, more than one office visit may be required
  • Chipping – depending on location, composite materials can chip off the tooth
  • Expense – composite fillings can cost up to twice the cost of amalgams
  • Loss of seal/bond- composite fillings can have a minimal loss of seal that can lead to a great degree of damage to the tooth.  Much like a pinhole in a tire, a microgap in the seal of the filling can leak for a long period of time without detectable signs or symptoms, contributing to recurrent decay and possibly more extensive treatment.

Which is best?

As you can see there is no one filling that works for all situations.  Your dentist will visit with you about your specific scenario before deciding what is right for you.