Child Health & Development

Silver or White Fillings For Children?



Silver or White Fillings For Children?

Often parents have a hard time deciding whether to have white or silver fillings done on their children’s teeth. All parents want to do what is best for their children, no matter what it takes. Silver fillings have been used for ages and are very economical compared to white fillings. Whether the dentist is trying to sell an expensive upgrade or do the right thing, is a question on everyone’s mind. I want to list the pros and cons of both fillings, so parents with the help of the dentist can decide what is best for their child.

Amalgam (silver) fillings have been used by dentists for more than a hundred years. It is an alloy made by combining mercury, silver, tin and copper. It may contain traces of some other metals. Dental amalgam is the most widely used restorative material; however, there are concerns about mercury present in it. There are concerns about how much mercury is released once the filling is completed. Research has shown that the amount of mercury released is very low. The major U.S. and international scientific health bodies, including WHO and FDA, are satisfied that amalgam is a safe, reliable and effective restorative material. Some individuals may be allergic or sensitive to mercury or other metals in amalgam, though it is very rare. They should inform the dentist and not get amalgam fillings.

Composite (white) fillings are a mixture of glass or quartz in a resin media. They are not as strong as amalgam but over the years the strength of the material has been greatly improved .

Pros and cons: Amalgam Fillings

Amalgam is a strong filling and can better withstand forces of mastication.
Recommended on teeth if it cannot be kept dry during filling, for example fillings under the gum.
They are more economical.
Well tolerated and biocompatible.
Tooth can be sensitive to hot and cold for a few weeks after the filling is done.
Show when you smile or talk especially when done on front teeth.
Can cause discoloration of tooth.
Require dentist to remove more tooth structure to create retention.

Pros and cons: Composite Fillings

White fillings are not as strong as amalgam.
Less tooth structure needs to be removed since it bonds to the tooth.
They are tooth colored, so more aesthetic.
Require cavity preparation that is dry and clean during filling
More expensive than amalgam
Contain no mercury
White filling can shrink and that can cause recurrent decay and discoloration of tooth.

The FDA does not recommend that you have your amalgam filling replaced if it is sound and has no decay underneath. This results in unnecessary loss of healthy tooth structure and exposes you to mercury vapor while having the filling removed.

Next time you visit a dentist, make an informed decision.

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Dr. Humairah

Dr. Humairah Shah is a dentist by profession and works in Torrance, California (USA). She has been working exclusively with children for the past 11 years.

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