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Silver Amalgam vs Composite Resin Filling Materials

When a dentist finds a cavity or a crack in your tooth, they first try to repair it. In most cases, this involves the use of a filling that seals the opening and hardens to protect the tooth’s surface from infiltration and damage. Fillings are normally done with silver amalgam or composite resin.

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For anyone wondering which is the better option for a dental repair, we’ve made a quick outline of the advantages and disadvantages of these filling options.

Dental Filling Material Options

To make a repair, your dentist is likely to reach for a silver amalgam or resin composite. Both types of materials can be used effectively to fill cavities to adequately protect your teeth from further damage.

Silver Amalgam

Silver amalgam is a very soft, malleable, metal compound that is made up of copper, tin, silver, and mercury. Mercury accounts for almost 50% of the mixture, giving the final material, its silvery-grey appearance. Once dental amalgam has been mixed, the dentist gently packs into the hole that has been drilled into the tooth. The surface of the amalgam is formed to match the tooth structure and edge of the tooth above it. Once your bite pattern has been established, the amalgam is allowed to cure, or harden.

Silver amalgam has been approved for dental use by the FDA and it has been declared safe for patients. However, it does contain a small amount of mercury. This element helps make the filling material flexible to fit into the tooth, while also hardening enough to be durable. Research has shown that the amount of mercury in a filling is less than the amount people encounter in foods and their day-to-day life. Yet, experts still recommend that pregnant women avoid getting these types of fillings during a pregnancy.

Composite Resin

Composite resin is made of finely ground glass and porcelain particles which mixed together to create an opaque material. It can have a more translucent quality and is tinted to give it an opaque appearance. While the mixture is still malleable, it is gently packed into the tooth and shaped to fit your bite pattern. Once it is in place and properly shaped, the dentist will allow it to cure or harden. A special light is used to help it bond to the tooth and speed up the process.

What’s the Difference? Between Silver Amalgam and Composite Resin

Traditionally, silver amalgam was the filling material of choice for caries. It wasn’t until the 1960s that resin compounds began to be used by dentists as an alternative for fillings and fissures. Today, patients have a choice about which filling material should be used. Here’s a comparison of the main factors which should help inform your decision.


One of the biggest drawbacks of silver amalgam fillings is their appearance. They are extremely simple to formulate and use, but are darker in color. The amalgam mixture has also been known to stain teeth over the course of several years.

Dental technology has evolved over time and provided another option. One of the unique benefits of composite resin a tint can be added, while the material is mixed. The dentist can match the color of the tooth being filled or fixed. The filling doesn’t stand out. After the resin hardens, the material blends in with your smile even in highly visible spots. The final result is virtually invisible.


Both materials are incredibly long-lasting. Composite resin fillings can last upwards of 10 years, and even longer with proper oral care. Silver amalgam fillings are also extremely durable. For most, the average lifespan ranges between 10 and 15 years, but we have seen cases in which they have lasted up to 20 years.

To extend the life of your filling, it’s important to be seen by your dentist every year and report any health problems as soon as they occur. Hygiene and taking proper care of your teeth is also crucial. This includes brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing at least once. Additionally, you can help reduce the growth of bacteria by using a mouthwash approved by the ADA.

Filling Procedure

The procedure for placing and curing the silver filling and resin are very similar. The biggest difference is that composite resin will harden much faster than dental amalgam. This usually results in a shorter dental appointment for fillings.


When comparing the cost of silver amalgam fillings to their composite counterparts, composite resin costs slightly more. This is partially because of the R&D costs associated with creating resin products and developing equipment to cure it. Silver amalgam performs just as well as composite fillings for a more affordable price.

Get more helpful tips from an expert team: What to Know About Temporary Filling Aftercare.

Reliable Dentistry Options to Fit Every Patient’s Needs

We offer our patients the option of which type of material they prefer for fillings. If cost is a factor, the silver amalgam fillings are more affordable and still offer the same, long-lasting, and durable wear. If visual appearance is important, we can accommodate your choice by using composite resin and precise color matching.

At Briglia Dental, we always take the time to discuss the various options with our patients before a procedure. We are dedicated to ensuring all your questions are answered and assisting you in making a fully informed decision. Call Dr. Briglia’s office today at (610) 615 0160. We can replace existing fillings or make any repairs needed after your annual checkup.

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Dr. Ron Briglia at Briglia Dental Group

Dr. Ron Briglia has been practicing dentistry since 1984. With decades of experience and extensive continuing education, Dr. Briglia provides the most comprehensive dental services.

He earned his Bachelor of Science from Gannon University and his Doctor of Dental Medicine from Temple University Dental School. He has received advanced training at prestigious organizations like Pankey and Las Vegas Institutes. He is IV and oral sedation-certified too.

Most of Dr. Briglia’s patients have continued with him in his family of patients for over 30 – 35 years, and the restorations he has provided them have lasted for 25-35 years – clear evidence of his skills and expertise.

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