Composite Dental Fillings Vs. Metal Dental Fillings

October 3, 2019

Have you been informed by your dentist that you’re going to need a filling? Did they tell you that you have options as to what kind of filling you get? Today, dentists offer both composite dental fillings and metal dental fillings. But is one better than the other? It can be more of a preference than a case of good or bad, in most instances. Let’s take a look at these fillings, how they differ, and why various individuals may prefer one over the other.

With more information about each type of filling, you should be able to make an educated decision as to which one you prefer. Additionally, your dentist should go over your options with you so that the two of you can decide together.


Though only two were referred to above, there are several materials to consider when you need a filling. They are as follows:

  • Gold
  • Silver amalgam
  • Composite resin

To each of these, there are pros and cons. Let’s take a closer look at all three.


Fillings made from gold have been around for 2500 years or more. Though they have a lot of benefits, compared to silver amalgam, they’re 10 times more expensive. Various metals, copper, and an alloy of gold are used to make gold inlay tooth fillings. For small cavities or cracks, gold foil may also be used. Here are the pros and cons of gold…


  • After removal, can be sold as scrap
  • Compared to silver amalgam, more aesthetically pleasing
  • Withstands chewing forces – it’s strong
  • Won’t corrode
  • May last as much as 30 years


  • Natural tooth color cannot be matched
  • Can cause galvanic shock if placed next to silver amalgam
  • Several dentist visits necessary
  • Expensive

Silver Amalgam

This is a very popular tooth filling material and is another metal option. It is affordable and durable. On the other hand, it is looked upon as being unsightly. Tin, mercury, copper, and silver are mixed together for this material. Here are the pros and cons of silver amalgam…


  • Application time is fast
  • Large cavities can be filled
  • Withstands chewing forces – it’s strong
  • Can last as much as 15 years


  • Some people have mercury allergies
  • Extra removal of the tooth is required
  • Teeth may crack due to hot and cold foods causing contracting and expanding
  • Natural tooth color cannot be matched

If the filling will be toward the back of your mouth, and the cavity is exceptionally large, these are less expensive than gold fillings, so may be a good option for some individuals.

Composite Resin

Of all the cavity-filling materials listed here, this is the most popular. You may hear these types of fillings referred to as “tooth-colored fillings”. They are the most aesthetically pleasing choice. Here are the pros and cons…


  • Compared to gold – cheaper
  • Less removal of existing tooth material required
  • For better structural support, chemically bonds to the tooth
  • Usable for both back and front teeth
  • Can match the color of your other teeth


  • Depending on location, may chip off tooth
  • Only five year life expectancy
  • Application time is slightly longer than metal fillings
  • Only moderate chewing pressure withstood
  • Your insurance may not cover it
  • Not particularly good for larger cavities

Choosing Your Material

To choose between metal tooth filler and composite resin, several things come into play. Every situation will not be matched by both. It may also have to do with the skill level of your dentist and how comfortable they are with each material. Here are some things that should be considered when making your choice:

  • Cost
  • Cavity size
  • Damage type
  • Tooth location

Discuss each of these with your dentist before choosing your filling material.

At Real Smile Dental, our dentists will be happy to discuss the different types of filling materials and assist you in the decision as to which one is best for your particular circumstances. If you would like to schedule an appointment or speak to one of our experts, please contact us today.

This page article was written by Real Smile Dental Marketing, it may not express the views of the dentists. For an expert consultation, please schedule an appointment.