What Types Of Dental Fillings Are There And Which Is The Best?


If your dentist discovers a cavity they will recommend that you get fillings right away. Generally, getting a dental filling involves removing the decayed part of the tooth and then replacing it with strong and durable material. The filling will prevent the further decay of your teeth and maintain the health of your tooth. 

What kind of material is used depends on a number of factors including:

  • The location of the cavity
  • The extent of the decay
  • The patient’s insurance coverage
  • The dentist’s recommendation. 

There are a variety of filling materials that could potentially be used. Let’s examine a few of them.

What Materials Are Fillings Made From?

There are many filling materials on today’s market and the materials they are made from include gold, silver amalgam, composite resins and even more advanced materials like zirconia. During your initial consultation, your dentist will explain the options you have and the extent of the cavities that need to be filled. 

Composite Fillings

Composite fillings are sometimes called white fillings. They are made from powdered glass quartz, silica or other ceramic materials that are added to a base of resin. After the tooth is prepared, the filling is bonded to the cavity area and then set with a high-intensity light. The dentist can even match the color of the filling to your natural tooth. 

These kinds of fillings have an advantage in that they are well suited for the front teeth or the visible parts of the teeth. They can actually bond to the tooth structure, and provide support for the tooth. Composite fillings are also very versatile material and can be used to repair chipped, broken, or worth teeth. More of the tooth structure can be spared as less of the tooth is needed to be removed compared with amalgams. 

There are some disadvantages that should be considered. A composite filling is not as durable as an amalgam filling and it may not hold up as long if used for large cavities. Generally, they live in the last 5 years compared to the 10 to 15 years of amalgams. Composite fillings may also take longer to place, sometimes by an extra 20 minutes. The material may also chip depending on where they are placed. They can also cost double the cost of amalgam fillings.

Amalgam Fillings

Amalgam fillings are sometimes called silver fillings. They are made from a combination of silver and mercury and a few other materials. These are generally made with 50% mercury, 35% silver and 15% tin, copper, and other materials.

Amalgams last a long time and can endure a lot of wear. They have a long history of use, being used as a filling material for over 150 years. Amalgams are often used for fillings in the molars and chewing teeth.

The mercury in the amalgam filling is not poisonous. When it is combined with the other metals it is rendered harmless. With over 100 years of use and study, there has not been one reputable study that found a connection between amalgam fillings and any medical problem.

Amalgams do have some disadvantages, including the destruction of more tooth structure. It can also discover the tooth, leaving it looking a greenish-gray color. They are also more susceptible to expanding and contracting due to changes in temperature. Additionally, less than 1% of people may experience an allergic reaction to the mercury in the filling.

Gold Fillings

Gold is a durable and long-lasting material that lasts for many years. It has an advantage int hat it does not tarnish. It must be made in a laboratory and then fitted later. In the meantime, the dentist will place a temporary filling. Once the gold inlay has been made, the dentist will fix it into place with dental cement.

Gold fillings last up to 15 years, and some people find it very attractive when compared to other fillings. They do tend to be more expensive and are often ten times higher than amalgam fillings. They require multiple office visits in order for them to be placed. 

And be careful of placing the gold fillings near a silver filling and they can cause a sharp shock. This is called a galvanic shock, but this is very rare.

Zirconia Fillings

Some fillings are made out of ceramics like zirconia. They are resistant to staining and last more than 15 years and can cost as much as a gold filling. Porcelain inlays are made in a laboratory and they will require at least two visits to your dentist. Porcelain is a hard and long-lasting material that is matched in color to your natural tooth.

Another type of advanced filling includes glass ionomer filings. This material will actually form a chemical link with the tooth. This type of filling is fairly week and often is used only for baby teeth and non-biting surfaces. They require some preparation in order to have the filling bond directly to the teeth.

What Filling Should I Get?

Choosing the right filling material can be a tough decision. The best way to choose is to check with your dentist and see what filling material will best fit your situation and your budget. Your insurance company may cover a portion of the cost of dental fillings, and your dentist may offer a financial option should you need it.

If you are interested in a filling, and you live in La Verne, California give La Verne Dental and Implant Center a call at 909-586-1155 to arrange your consultation today.