Types of Fillings

Dentist treats cavity by removing the decayed part and replacing it with a filling for the tooth. They fill the area where the decay got removed to protect the cavity and prevent the problem from getting worse. Fillings are also great for broken or cracked teeth worn down from tooth grinding or nail biting. If you plan on getting a cavity treatment discuss the different types of fillings with your dentist so you can make the right choice.

Today, people have more choices when it comes to dental filling unlike in the past. The types of filling give people option to decide what material to fill their cavity. The fillings also make sure that everyone can afford tooth restoration.

Routine checkup is important, most cavity problems discovered only during regular dentist checkup. The usual recommendation for a tooth problem with severe cavity is tooth restoration. The process involves the removal of decay and placing of fillings. You can choose from silver amalgam, porcelain, gold or composite fillings. And out of the four types of filling, silver amalgam and composite are the most common while the most expensive is gold fillings.


tooth with silver filling

A tooth with a silver filling.

Silver Amalgam Filling

Silver amalgam is the most popular filling material for tooth restoration. Amalgam material consists of copper, zinc, tin, silver and mercury, with 50% being mercury. Amalgam is a popular filling because it is low cost, can last longer and more powerful. The filling’s durability and strength give patient value for their money.

When it comes to the aesthetic part of amalgam filling, it is not as pleasing as the other filling. But it can last for 15 years or more as durability and strength of the filling is the same as that of gold material. When it comes to the costs amalgam is definitely much cheaper than gold filling. Amalgam is also easier to place, and contamination from blood or saliva is not an issue.

Amalgam fillings are prone to contraction and expansion so cracking is a common problem. But the two are not the only disadvantages fluctuation is another problem of amalgam filling. Fluctuation is a condition that creates space between the tooth and filling. The space created by fluctuation allows bacteria and food to get trapped as well as cavities to form again. Plus, mercury is a controversial element, and not all people want anything to do with mercury since it is a dangerous element. 

Composite Filling

Composite filling are another popular and most used filling for tooth restoration. The filling is popular since its appearance is akin to the color of the tooth. So, it is easy to match with the shade of the present teeth, it would be hard for people to tell which is real and not with tooth colored filling.

To make a composite filling, dentist using a curing light or bring blue light will harden the soft material placed in your tooth. Take note, composite material is a bit softer, so it requires the use of a curing light to harden the filling. It goes without saying composite is not as durable as amalgam or metal fillings.

Composite fillings made up of plastic material or resin. It is not long lasting and also more expensive than its counterpart, silver amalgam. It is much more expensive than amalgam but not as expensive as the gold material. Composite filling is a material used most of the time by dentist and usually replaced every 5 years.

Ceramic Filling

Ceramic filling is expensive and popular fillings because of its durability and aesthetic look. People also prefer ceramics as the fillings made up of porcelain, making it resistant to abrasion and staining. Porcelain also gives a tooth colored appearance. So, between ceramic filling and composite resin, it is much better to go with the former if you can afford it.

Ceramic filling has lots of fine points, but it does not mean it is perfect because there are disadvantages to using ceramic. For one, ceramic filling is more brittle than the composite filling and need more space. Ceramic need large space to keep the fillings steady enough to prevent break-up. Hence, the tooth gets reduced to make way for the extra bulk.

By the way, tooth restoration with ceramic filling is usually referred to as onlays or inlays.

Glass Ionomers Filling

What is glass ionomers filling? These are filling made of acrylic and glass. The glass ionomers are good filling for children. The filling helps protect the tooth from tooth decay since it releases fluoride and the fillings can last for 5 years or less.

The disadvantages of the fillings are its strength and aesthetic look. It is definitely weaker compared to composite resin. Its lack of strength makes the filling prone to wear and tear or fracture. Moreover, glass ionomer does not match the color of the tooth as good as the composite resin does.

A tooth with a gold filling.

A tooth with a gold filling.

Gold Fillings

Gold fillings are the most expensive filling material for cavity. Tooth restoration with gold fillings costs about 10 times more than silver amalgam, so gold is not used all the time. But compared to silver amalgam, gold filling is more pleasant looking.

Gold fillings are used because the gold material is more sturdy and non-corrosive. The sturdiness of the gold filling also gives people 15 years or more. The disadvantages of gold filling are costs and longer procedure. Gold filling often times need another visit to the dentist before the fillings placed as it should be.

When the dentists tell you that your tooth has decays and must be restored, you have many options when it comes to filling. After your tooth restoration, it is important that you take good care of your teeth. Follow your dentist’s oral health care advice. In case the fillings fall out or break out, visit your dentist right away so the filling are replace or repaired immediately.

The above types of fillings should give you an idea and even help you decide on which is the best fillings.


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Pedram Soleimani DDS
Dr. Soleimani received his doctoral degree in dental surgery from the University of Southern California, School of Dentistry. He was placed on the dean's list and graduated among the top in his class. Dr. Soleimani continued his training with two years of residency in advanced multidisciplinary training ranging from cosmetic to surgical dentistry at the VA / UCLA Hospital in Los Angeles, California and the Brooklyn Hospital in Brooklyn, New York. His advanced training and dedication to the field allows him to offer the finest in patient care. He has a commitment to excellence when it comes to his patients smiles.

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