Throughout dentistry’s history, people have experimented with a variety of materials to fill cavity-riddled teeth. They tried gold and even beeswax, but the two materials that they found worked the best was silver amalgam and composite resin. Both have advantages and disadvantages, and it is ultimately up to the patient to decide which is best for them. Here is a side by side comparison to help you decide.

Amalgam fillings

Dental amalgam is made from a mixture of tin, silver, copper, and mercury. It has been used for more than 15 years and has piles of scientific research behind it. Amalgam fillings had improved over time, becoming safer and more durable than when they were first invented. 


  • Inexpensive – It is the more economical choice compared to other filling materials. A basic filling covering one or two surfaces costs around $50 without insurance. Because of its low price, amalgam fillings are usually used for children’s teeth. Aesthetics are less of a concern for children who will have their baby teeth fall out by the time they are 12-years-old anyway. 
  • Durable – Amalgam fillings can last up to 13 years compared to the eight years composite resin fillings last. Some have even lasted up to 20 years when maintained well. 
  • Easy to put in – It will be easier for your dentist to put amalgam fillings in because it is less sensitive to moisture.


  • Colour – These fillings are silver in colour due to the alloy of metals it is made from, and it will darken as time goes on. It can eventually appear black, resembling the original cavities the fillings were meant to correct.
  • Tarnishing – The material can bleed out on teeth, leaving a “tattoo” that makes teeth look silver-gray.
  • Contains mercury – While dental associations have studied the safeness amalgam fillings extensively, some people still feel wary about putting mercury in their mouth.

Composite resin fillings

This material is made from ground white porcelain and strong resins. Decay on the tooth is removed gently, and the area is cleaned before composite resin is piped in place. A small UV light is used to harden the filling quickly. Your teeth are left looking beautiful and natural. 


  • Seamless – Because the material is the same colour as your teeth, the filling easily blends in so only you will know you have it. 
  • Dries quickly – The composite resin is cured instantly with the UV light, making the material bond directly to your tooth. There is no wait time or concern about it getting anywhere else besides the intended spot. 
  • Tight bond – Amalgam fillings are held in place by the shape of the cavity. Composite resin fillings stick to the tooth itself, meaning less of a chance for further decay to occur and a stronger tooth structure in general. 


  • Lifespan – Because composite resin fillings do not self-seal like amalgam fillings, they have a shorter lifespan. 
  • Requires multiple visits – You might require more visits if your composite resin fillings need to be put in place in layers.


Typically, amalgam fillings are recommended for back molars that are not visible, while composite resin fillings are ideal for front teeth since they are highly visible. Choosing between amalgam or composite resin fillings can be tricky, but it does not have to be. The oral care experts at South Georgetown Dental can help you, and we will make sure you are happy and comfortable throughout your dental exam and treatments.