Traditionally, fillings have been silver amalgam which actually contained Mercury. Although many fillings can be at the back of the mouth, sometimes it’s necessary to have them in plain sight and with more advanced dental treatments available in order to help keep your teeth white and clean, there is a more preferred treatment.

White filling is used to restore teeth when part of a tooth has been lost through tooth decay. A natural-coloured filling material can be bonded for minor repairs to front teeth like chipped or broken tooth corners, providing a perfect unfilled appearance. Sometimes fillings can’t be used when a tooth is removed due to the nerve being exposed and then a root canal treatment is required but generally, providing there is enough protection fr the nerve, a composite filling would be recommended. Should there be any other complications with the gum, our Endodontics treatments can help.


Why Choose Tooth Coloured Fillings?

Aesthetics are the primary reason many people prefer white fillings and in many cases you can regain the natural appearance of the tooth. White or Tooth coloured fillings are becoming the popular choice, in some cases allowing you to show no visible fillings. Read about our different filling treatments available.

What are Tooth Coloured Fillings Made Of?

White fillings are a composite of tooth coloured plastic and glass and give a much more aesthetically-pleasing look. An alternate type of white/tooth coloured filling known as glass ionomer fillings are made of acrylic and fine glass powder and contain and release fluoride into the tooth which helps protect the tooth from decay.

Old (amalgam) fillings can be replaced with attractive white fillings providing a perfectly natural appearance without any metal showing and free of mercury. This type of metal filling material is removed by using a watertight seal around the tooth so that the intake of mercury is kept to a minimum for your maximum safety. So you could change your grey fillings for ones that make it look like you have none at all

The Difference Between Mercury Fillings & Tooth Coloured Composite Fillings

Amalgam or Silver Mercury fillings differ to White or tooth coloured fillings in various ways. Firstly, the materials are very different in composition so this results in a clear and obvious colour difference With amalgam fillings, they do not match the colour of your tooth.

Secondly, there is a need to often remove healthy parts of your tooth so as to create sufficient space to hold the amalgam filling in place, whereas with the tooth coloured fillings, they chemically attach to the tooth and so they are considered as a more conservative restoration technique, requiring less removal of tooth.

Thirdly, there is a substance called Mercury incorporated into the amalgam fillings which helps it fulfil its properties as a filling material which the tooth coloured materials do not contain. The Mercury within can often be a cause for concern to people who have an allergy to it, or to those who are concerned about its effects. There is however, enough research to show the amount of mercury exposure from the amalgam fillings is similar to what people can be exposed to from other sources in the environment.

How to Choose the Right Fillings for Your Teeth – Gold Amalgam, Composite & Ceramic

Once you have a dental exam with your dentist you will be advised of any potential problems and the options to correct them. In the case of a filling the dentist will assess and then advise you on the anticipated size of the filling, which then in turn allows the most suitable material to be recommended.

Small and Medium sized cavities are usually filled with tooth coloured material or Amalgam. Larger cavities may require a lab made restoration from Gold or Ceramic, with the problematic area potentially experiencing high forces of chewing.

Side Effects

The most common side effect to having a composite filling is sensitivity post treatment. This could occur when consuming cold or sweet items and is most likely in situations where the cavity is deeper. This can happen because the inner layers have nerves embedded into them. With filling material containing plastic within, it has the ability to slightly flex when put under pressure. When chewing, for example, the flexing can disturb those nerves creating sensitivity.

Alternatively because of the strength of the composite filling once set hard, if the filling is made too high you will not be able to grind it down yourself and so that tooth will then take more force than your other teeth, once again disturbing the nerves within which will lead to sensitivity. To avoid this problem your dentist will often check the bite several times and then make adjustments as necessary.

Glass ionomer fillings are not as strong once they set as hard as composite fillings and so they often do not create these above issues.


Tooth coloured fillings often have a shorter lifespan than the Amalgam fillings. Studies conducted show varying longevity of fillings and it is thought that tooth coloured fillings generally last 5 to 7 years. If one is comparing tooth coloured fillings, then composite fillings will generally last longer than glass ionomer fillings. For more details on filling treatments check out our frequently asked questions section on dental fillings.

Online Leaflets

For general information on a condition and treatment? Visit the British Dental Health Foundation. The BDHF is an independent charity dedicated to raising public awareness about the benefits of improving oral health.