For insurance companies, silver has become "the gold standard" since most will pay the price of a silver filling, but if a patient chooses a filling option that costs more than silver, he or she may have to pay for the remainder of the bill [source: WebMD].
A dentist won't typically ask you what kind of filling you would like. (It's not like picking an item from a menu.) But maybe your dentist should ask you.
Composite fillings that match the color of your teeth don't last as long as substances like cast gold [source: Newell]. Often, they only last about five years, while fillings made of ceramic or gold can last 15 years or more [source: WebMD]. That's a side effect that could cost you money and time.
Silver fillings are cost-effective, and they tend to last a decade or more. However, in a very limited number of instances -- about 1 percent of patients -- an allergic reaction can occur [source: WebMD]. In addition, in 2008 the American Dental Association issued a statement regarding silver fillings which are often referred to as amalgams. The ADA warned that, while there is no direct evidence of dangers, amalgams contain mercury which "may have neurotoxic effects on the nervous systems of developing fetuses and children." The FDA also recommends that pregnant women discuss the potential for harm with their doctors [source: WebMD].
The dentistry profession -- including cavity filling -- has come a long way since its inception. Getting a cavity filled is a common and typically safe process. But, ultimately, you are the patient, and you have the right to discuss and consider all the options with your family doctor and your dentist.
For more information on cavities, fillings and other dental practices, visit the links and resources on the next page.