Should My Metal Fillings Be Replaced With Tooth-Colored Ones?
March 3, 2019

close up of a dental metal filling

Amalgam metal fillings are routinely replaced every day. In fact, the procedure is so standard that most insurance companies cover the replacement of an amalgam filling after one year. While the average lifespan of a metal filling can be up to 10 years, you may be wondering if you should have yours replaced with tooth-colored composite fillings before then.


Benefits of Tooth-Colored Fillings

When it comes to the benefits of tooth-colored fillings, it’s evident that the number one reason for their popularity is appearance. Restorations with composite material create a tooth-colored repair that blends in with your other teeth. This allows for complete tooth restoration without the harsh and unattractive appearance of metal.

Tooth-colored composite fillings have other advantages as well. In addition to looking natural, composite fillings also:

  • Blend in with your other teeth
  • Do not contain mercury
  • Bond to the tooth and strengthen it in the process
  • Require less of the tooth to be removed to place a filling


Risks Associated With Replacing Fillings

It’s crucial that the dentist you choose to replace your metal filings is appropriately trained to protect you from high concentrations of mercury by following proper safety protocols. Also, amalgam alternatives may have a period of post-operative sensitivity which usually lasts a few weeks. This sensitivity is typical after any dental work is performed on your teeth.

Premier Dental Center does not recommend early removal and replacement of amalgam fillings. However, a metal filling typically needs to be replaced due to the factors listed below.


Reasons To Replace Your Metal Fillings

If your dentist has recommended you replace your metal fillings, it is likely due to one of these reasons. Here’s why many patients decide to update them:

Fractured Tooth

Many teeth that have amalgam fillings also have cracks all around the exterior of the tooth. A small conservative amalgam filling can lead to a tooth fracture in the same way a large filling can. The preparations required for an amalgam filling include having a predetermined amount of tooth structure removed to create an adequate amount of space for the amalgam. The more substantial amount of structure of the tooth lost, the weaker the tooth becomes in return.

Age of filling

At some point during a fillings lifespan, it will need to be replaced. Loose fillings allow for bacteria to invade a tooth. Not only does this introduce new tooth decay, but the decay also becomes trapped underneath the old filling. If your metal fillings are old and coming to the end of their life expectancy, now may be the perfect time to swap them for tooth-colored composite ones.


Composite fillings are bonded to the tooth, whereas amalgam fillings are not. Over time, saliva, food, and bacteria can creep down the small spaces between the tooth and the amalgam filling into the tooth cavity. This leads to tooth decay and further damage to the tooth.


Since being introduced as a mainstream option of tooth restoration in 1995, it’s evident that metal fillings were designed for function, not for vanity reasons. If your beautiful smile is in every other way perfect in your eyes, composite fillings could be the ideal final touch. Tooth-colored fillings can provide you with a more attractive, healthier smile.


Limitations of Composite Fillings

While composite fillings are considered more durable, they are not always the answer to a tooth restoration issue. If you have a tooth that has a large cavity, a composite filling may not be an option for you.

Other limitations to composite fillings include:

  • The need to be replaced every 7-10 years
  • May have a higher out-of-pocket cost than amalgam fillings
  • May not be suitable for large fillings

The best way to know if your metal fillings should be replaced with composite ones is to schedule a personal consultation appointment with Premier Dental Center. We will assess your teeth and recommend the best treatment options available including when it would be appropriate to have your old fillings removed.