If you have cavities, you need to choose between silver amalgam and composite fillings. In both cases, your dentist will remove the tooth decay and place the filling. However, the two choices have quite a few differences.

Compare amalgam and composite fillings

Amalgam fillings are made from silver, tin, copper and mercury. Composite fillings are made from a composite resin material. Both options protect the teeth after a cavity. However, the two have distinct differences.


The first difference is the most noticeable. Composite resin fillings are tooth-colored. Dentists match the color of the patient’s natural teeth to the color of the composite resin. While amalgam fillings consist of various metals, the fillings have a silver appearance. Silver fillings stand out when people talk and smile.


The metals used to make silver amalgam fillings make the fillings extremely durable. Silver fillings typically last for 10-15 years. Composite resin is not as strong as metal, and the fillings usually last for five years. In both cases, the fillings can last for longer or shorter durations, depending on how patients care for them. Also, the location of the filling impacts how long it lasts. For example, composite resin fillings can last 10 or more years when on the front teeth.

Filling stability

Silver fillings typically last longer than composite resin fillings do. However, silver fillings expand and contract when exposed to hot and cold temperatures. Expansion can cause the teeth to crack. When the filling contracts, food can get underneath the material and cause additional decay. Composite resin fillings do not change in size.