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Dental Fillings > Amalgam Fillings vs. Composite

  • Amalgam Fillings
    DurabilityCan withstand exceptional force
    Cost$89 on average (w/insurance)

  • Composite Fillings
    Appearance – Tooth Colored
    Durability – Fair resistance to normal biting forces
    Cost – $207 on average (w/insurance)

tooth with amalgam fillingtooth with composite filling


Understanding Your Choices

You probably know you need a filling after decay is removed but not so much about the different materials available.

Both amalgam and composite fillings can be used to restore your tooth, protecting it from further damage and decay by closing spaces that are left behind after the tooth has been treated.

Composite fillings have become an effective and more aesthetic solution for restoring teeth. However, in some case, amalgam may be recommended to provide the necessary strength to withstand greater force.

So are they really that different?

The Greatest Difference Between These Materials is Their Appearancecomposite vs amalgam fillingSo what else do I need to know to make my decision?

The Defining Differences Between Amalgam & Composite Fillings


Amalgam fillings have a darker, silver color once applied to teeth, making them instantly noticeable. On the other hand, composite fillings are tooth-colored, allowing them to blend with the rest of the tooth.


While composite fillings can withstand the normal stresses of chewing, they are less resistant to excessive force. This is why amalgam fillings are typically recommended for patients who suffer from bruxism or temporomandibular (TMJ) disorder.

Alteration to the Natural Tooth Structure

To properly secure an amalgam filling, special alterations must be made to the tooth, removing more of the natural structure. Composite fillings can be bonded directly to the tooth.


Typically, composite fillings are slightly more expensive than amalgam fillings. Additionally, they may not be covered by insurance due to a difference in the cost of materials.

Durability & Replacement of Composite Fillings

According to the American Dental Association, studies have shown that composite fillings can be less durable in certain circumstances and may require more frequent replacement compared to amalgam fillings.

These treatments can offer many of the same benefits when it comes to your oral health…

Both Amalgam & Composite Fillings Are Safe & Reliable Solutions

Restore the Shape of Your Tooth

Once the doctor removes the decayed portion of the tooth, an opening will be left behind. Placing a filling of any kind can restore proper shape and complete your tooth.

Provide Strength & Protection

Without a filling, your tooth would be weaker structurally and substantially exposed to bacteria. A filling provides strength and protection to help prevent further breakage or infection.

Safe to Use

You may be under the impression that because amalgam fillings contain mercury that they are dangerous. However, that is not the case. You are exposed to more harmful amounts of mercury in the air and in your food.

Amalgam Is Safe

Many scientific organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dental Association, agree that amalgam is a safe dental filling material.

Just how common are dental fillings?

Millions of Patients Successfully Repair Their Teeth With Fillings Each Year

10-year success rate of over 80% infographic

*According to the Journal of Conservative Dentistry

Over 100 million amalgam fillings are placed each year and composite fillings continue to grow in popularity. While there has been debate as to which has a higher survival rate, it has been found that both have a 10-year success rate of nearly 80 percent.

Like any procedure, there are pros and cons for each type of filling…

Considering the Pros & Cons



Composite FillingsAmalgam Fillings
Safe dental material that can replace the decayed portion of toothXX
Protect both anterior and posterior teethXX
Natural-looking resultsX 
Withstand exceptional force caused by teeth grinding or TMJ disorder X


Composite FillingsAmalgam Fillings
Color of the material disrupts the aesthetics of your smile X
Eventually need to be replacedXX
Must substantially alter the tooth structure X
Greater costX