Dental Topics

Dental Fillings: What are Your Options?

Which Filling Is Right for You?

Deciding which filling best fits your needs requires a thorough dental exam. Your dentist can evaluate your overall dental health so you can make an informed decision.

Choosing your fillings may come down to a matter of preference. Cosmetic appearance, durability, and cost are all factors to consider. Still, it is important to consult with your dentist before settling on an option. Your dentist can take into account the size and location of your cavity and share the pros and cons of each filling material.

A healthy smile can be marred by cavities. This form of tooth decay occurs when built-up plaque creates holes in the enamel covering a tooth’s surface. Without proper treatment, cavities can cause permanent damage to the sensitive tissue and nerves of a tooth.

Fillings are designed to treat cavities. A dental filling is composed of special material that is placed in the tooth after decayed tissue is removed. Traditional fillings are made from metal, but advances in dental care mean multiple options are now available to patients with cavities.

Types of Dental Fillings

Treating cavities in the early stages is essential. This helps you avoid serious complications ranging from nerve damage to tooth loss that can result if cavities are allowed to fester. There are a variety of dental fillings available. Always speak to your dentist to find out which option is the best for you.

Amalgam fillings: These fillings have been a fixture in dental care for more than a century. They are silver colored, but are made from several different types of metal including copper, silver, tin, and mercury.

Composite fillings: A composite filling is a tooth-colored filling made from resin, glass or quartz. These fillings are more durable than amalgam fillings, offering better resistance to fracture. Composite fillings also have a more natural appearance. They do come at a higher cost than amalgam fillings, however, and take a longer time to place in a cavity.

Ionomer fillings: These are another type of a tooth-colored filling. They are made from acrylic and glass or resin. This type of filling is used on major cavities near the roots or between teeth. They release fluoride to protect teeth from suffering additional decay. These fillings lack durability of other fillings, so they should not be placed on surfaces that are directly exposed to friction created from chewing.

Custom fillings: Your dentist will occasionally need to make fillings from a special mold of your mouth. These fillings include an inlay that fills the removed portion of your tooth and a crown designed to cover both the sides and the top of the tooth. Placing a custom filling requires two or more dental appointments. These fillings are quite durable over time and can be made from porcelain, composite materials, gold or other metal alloys.


“Dental Fillings.” Vermont State Dental Society (2008): Web.

“Dental Filling Options.” American Dental Association. Mouth Healthy, n.d. Web.

“Dental Filling Options.” ADA: Arizona’s Voice of Dentistry. Arizona Dental Association, n.d. Web.

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