Silver fillings

Cost Comparison: Tooth-Colored Fillings vs. Silver Fillings

Cost is an important consideration when choosing between tooth-colored fillings (composite fillings) and silver fillings (amalgam fillings) for dental restorations. Both types of fillings serve the primary purpose of repairing teeth damaged by decay or trauma, but they differ significantly in terms of composition, appearance, durability, and cost. This article explores the cost comparison between tooth-colored fillings and silver fillings, examining factors that influence pricing, the average costs involved, and considerations that patients should weigh when making a decision.

Composition and Material Differences

  1. Tooth-Colored Fillings (Composite Fillings): Composite fillings are made of a resin matrix combined with inorganic fillers like silica or quartz particles. These materials allow composite fillings to be shaded to match the natural color of teeth, providing a more aesthetically pleasing result compared to silver fillings. Composite materials are also adhesive, meaning they bond directly to the tooth structure, which can preserve more of the natural tooth.
  2. Silver Fillings (Amalgam Fillings): Amalgam fillings are composed of a mixture of metals, including silver, mercury, tin, and copper. The use of mercury in amalgam fillings has raised concerns among some patients, although regulatory bodies like the FDA and ADA consider amalgam fillings safe for most people when properly placed. Silver fillings are known for their durability and strength, making them suitable for filling cavities in high-stress areas like molars.

Factors Influencing Cost

Several factors contribute to the cost difference between tooth-colored fillings and silver fillings:

  1. Material Costs: Composite materials used for tooth-colored fillings are generally more expensive than the metals (such as silver and mercury) used in amalgam fillings. The cost of composite materials reflects their ability to be color-matched to natural teeth and their adhesive properties.
  2. Placement Technique: The placement technique for composite fillings is more technique-sensitive compared to silver fillings. Dentists must carefully isolate the tooth from saliva, apply bonding agents, and layer the composite material in increments before curing it with a special light. This meticulous process requires skill and time, contributing to the overall cost of composite fillings.
  3. Laboratory Costs: In some cases, tooth-colored fillings may require laboratory fabrication, especially for larger restorations or custom shades. This additional step can increase the cost compared to silver fillings, which are generally mixed and placed directly by the dentist during the appointment.
  4. Insurance Coverage: Dental insurance plans may cover both types of fillings, but coverage levels and reimbursement rates can vary. In many cases, insurance plans may cover silver fillings at a higher percentage than composite fillings due to their lower initial cost. Patients should check their insurance coverage and consider any out-of-pocket expenses when choosing between filling options.

Average Costs of Fillings

The average costs of tooth-colored fillings and silver fillings can vary depending on geographic location, dental practice, and specific patient needs. However, the following are general estimates based on national averages in the United States:

  • Tooth-Colored Fillings (Composite Fillings): On average, composite fillings can range from $150 to $450 per filling. The cost varies based on factors such as the size of the filling, the complexity of the procedure, and the dentist’s expertise. Larger fillings or those requiring multiple surfaces may be at the higher end of the cost spectrum.
  • Silver Fillings (Amalgam Fillings): Silver fillings are generally less expensive than composite fillings, with average costs ranging from $80 to $250 per filling. The lower cost of silver fillings reflects the materials used and the simpler placement technique compared to composite fillings.

Considerations When Choosing Fillings

When deciding between tooth-colored fillings and silver fillings, patients should consider the following factors in addition to cost:

  1. Aesthetic Preferences: Tooth-colored fillings offer a natural appearance that blends with natural teeth, making them ideal for visible areas of the mouth. Patients concerned about the appearance of their smile may prefer composite fillings despite the higher cost.
  2. Location of the Filling: The location of the filling within the mouth can influence the choice of material. Composite fillings are often preferred for front teeth or areas where aesthetics are important, while silver fillings may be more suitable for filling cavities in molars due to their durability.
  3. Longevity and Durability: Both types of fillings can be durable, but silver fillings are known for their longevity in high-stress areas. Patients with a history of bruxism (teeth grinding) or who require larger restorations may benefit from the strength of silver fillings.
  4. Health and Safety Concerns: While amalgam fillings are considered safe by regulatory bodies, some patients may have concerns about the presence of mercury. Composite fillings are mercury-free and may be preferred by patients seeking alternative materials for dental restorations.


The choice between tooth colored fillings Frisco and silver fillings involves weighing factors such as aesthetics, durability, cost, and personal preferences. While composite fillings generally cost more than silver fillings due to material and placement considerations, they offer advantages in terms of aesthetics and conservative tooth preparation. Patients should consult with their dentist to discuss treatment options, understand the costs involved, and make an informed decision based on their dental needs and preferences. Dental insurance coverage, if applicable, should also be considered to manage out-of-pocket expenses for dental restorations effectively.

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