Are White Fillings Better? All You Need to Know

benefits of white fillings by a cosmetic dentist in walnut creek

White fillings effectively fill out cavities and restore a tooth’s functions while being aesthetically pleasing. These fillings pose several benefits, which is why they’ve become the go-to solution for every professional cosmetic dentist in Walnut Creek.  

In this article, we’ll explain why white fillings became a leading dentistry treatment and give key takeaways on how to care for them to make them last as long as possible. Let’s go! 

malgam fillings before a cosmetic dentist in walnut creek treats them

What Are White Fillings?

In the past, most dentists used metal amalgam to fill cavities. Metal fillings restored the functionality of the teeth, but their color stood out when you smiled, making many patients lose confidence in their smile.  

Other problems with amalgam fillings included the way metals react to temperature changes, expanding and contracting and causing tooth sensitivity. For this reason, white fillings were created. 

White fillings are made from composite resin, and their color blends seamlessly with the rest of your teeth. For this reason, they are a visually appealing alternative for dental repairs, effectively treating cavities and stopping tooth loss. 

Dentists use white fillings for: 

  • Repairing small to medium-sized cavities, particularly those that are visible. 
  • Fixing broken or chipped teeth. 
  • Closing the spaces or gaps (diastemas) between teeth. 
  • Reshaping teeth for cosmetic reasons. 

The History of Composite Fillings

In the 1960s, composite resin fillings were first introduced as a color-matched substitute for conventional silver amalgam fillings. Still, they posed some limitations. For example, resin-based composites set in the tooth by a chemical reaction through polymerization between two pastes, which often took too much time. 

That’s why, in the 1970s, light-curing resin composites were developed. This enables patients to have their fillings set immediately after placement, overcoming the limitations of both the chemical setting method and silver amalgam. 

Advantages of White Fillings

Compared to metal amalgam fillings, white fillings have a number of advantages. In particular, white fillings: 

  • Excerpt inward pressure instead of outward pressure, which strengthens the tooth.  
  • Are less likely to break because they are cemented to the original tooth.  
  • Appear more natural, as they can be matched to the exact shade of your teeth.  
  • Do not swell or shrink in response to temperature variations.  
  • Avoid transferring temperature changes to the teeth’ nerves.   
  • Can be repaired easily.  
  • Don’t discolor your teeth.  
  • Can be applied to fill smaller cavities without sacrificing any healthy tissue.  
  • Reduce the risk of allergic reactions, as composite resin is hypoallergenic and less likely to trigger sensitivities.  
  • Require less removal of tooth structure during placement, preserving more healthy tissue. 

How Are White Fillings Placed?  

The process of placing a white filling is very similar to that of metal amalgam fillings. 

  1. First, the dentist will extract the tooth’s decayed area. Then, they will etch the tooth’s surface using a unique solution to ensure the filling material adheres correctly. 
  1. After the surface is ready, the dentist will apply the composite layer by layer, hardening each layer with a curing light. 
  1. Finally, the dentist will test your bite to ensure it is comfortable. If it’s not, they will polish the filling and make adjustments until it feels comfortable without affecting your natural bite. 

After the filling is installed, your tooth will not deteriorate further, and you will experience instant relief from any pain you may have felt. 

before and after a a cosmetic dentist in walnut creek

Differences Between White and Silver Fillings

Amalgam fillings are made from an alloy of different metals, including silver, mercury, tin, and copper. On the other hand, white composite fillings are made from silica particles blended with a plastic-like material.  

  • White fillings can be made to match the color and shape of your natural teeth, in contrast to silver fillings, which are obvious and can even darken over time. In other words, they complement your smile perfectly, even as time goes by. 
  • Our teeth’s color naturally changes as we age and due to our lifestyle choices. Nonetheless, composite fillings adjust to these modifications, matching the natural color of your teeth at various life stages. 
  • When it comes to durability, amalgam fillings do outlast white ones. After all, there’s a reason why gold was the first material ever used for fillings. Metals are renowned for their extraordinary toughness and endurance; they can bear powerful bite forces without quickly wearing down. 
  • Another advantage of metal fillings is that they have antimicrobial properties, offering better protection from further decay. Still, composite fillings also protect teeth from further decay by sealing off cavities. 
  • Additionally, the durability of white fillings has greatly increased with advancements in composite materials. Lastly, white dental fillings tend to be more expensive than silver dental fillings because they require advanced technologies for their placement process. 

Do Metal Fillings Contain Mercury?

Note that some patients have concerns about silver amalgam fillings containing mercury. Although the American Dental Association guarantees that these fillings don’t pose a health risk, these concerns may lead some patients to prefer white fillings when treating cavities. 

Do White Fillings Require Special Care?

White fillings require the same maintenance as natural teeth. By brushing your teeth daily with a soft brush and flossing at least once, you can keep them clean and increase their lifespan. 

If you use mouthwash, stay away from mouthwashes with alcohol in them, as these can soften composite material and reduce their longevity. 

Avoid using baking soda or abrasive toothpaste as well. Cut down on foods that stain, like tobacco, coffee, red wine, and soy sauce. Moreover, keep attending regular dental checkups once every six months to ensure that your fillings remain in top-condition and that there are no lingering dental issues. 

benefits of composite fillings by a cosmetic dentist in walnut creek

Find a Cosmetic Dentist in Walnut Creek

Patients have a variety of options when it comes to dental fillings. Metal fillings historically protected and restored teeth to their optimal conditions, but as time went by, more limitations of these kinds of fillings were discovered. That’s when white fillings came in. 

If you’re in need of a dental check-up for your filling or suspect you have a cavity, give us a call!