White or Metal fillings

In the world of dental restorations, fillings are perhaps the most common. However, what type is best for your child? There are two major contenders: White and metal.

Amalgam fillings are made with a combination of silver, tin, zinc, copper and mercury, with mercury making up about half of the cocktail. This is one type of metal filling. It is held inside the tooth non-bonded, and is only used for fillings in back teeth. It is the least expensive type of filling and very strong.

Pediatric Dental Fillings

However, there are pros and cons to each type. Amalgam fillings don’t match tooth color (after all, they’re metal), sometimes healthy parts of the teeth need to be removed to make room.

Type of White Fillings

Composite resin is a white filling made of a mix of plastic and fine glass. They can be direct or indirect fillings—direct fillings use a blue light that hardens instantly, while the indirect variety require tooth preparation, impressions and a lab to make the filling (this means two visits).

Composites are great for visible parts of the teeth and last a long time. Pros include matching the color of teeth, direct bonds and less drilling than amalgams. However, they’re not as strong as amalgams, composites can shrink which can lead to tooth sensitivities and make them more prone to cavities. Composites take specialized equipment to apply them, because the tooth must stay super dry when placing.

Another option is glass lonomer, which is made of a combination of acrylic and component glass. They can be used for front teeth fillings and are usually for those with massive decay that extends below the gum.

Your pediatric dentist can help you pick the best filling for your child.