Types of Tooth Fillings

Perhaps you received bad news at a recent visit to the dentist that you have another cavity. Fortunately, the number of cavities and need for fillings has generally decreased as people are better educated in caring for their teeth. However, cavities still happen. With modern dentistry, there are more types of valparaiso dental fillings available today than have ever been available.

Fillings vary based on their complexity and the material. Fillings are either directly placed in a cavity or indirectly placed. Indirect fillings include taking an impression of the tooth and placing a custom filling around the tooth. If your dentist suggests a complete tooth restoration, it is helpful to understand your options.


Patients often think of an amalgam filling as a classic or traditional option. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports that dentists have been using amalgam fillings for over 150 years. As suggested by the name, amalgam fillings are created from a mixture of various metals. The mixture typically contains about 50% mercury, in addition to tin, copper, silver and zinc. Amalgam fillings are inexpensive, strong and can last a long time.

Amalgam fillings do have some limitations. When they are initially placed, they are silver and get darker over time. While the FDA, the level of mercury in amalgam fillings is safe for patients over the age of six, some patients prefer to avoid using this material.


A composite tooth filling is typically created from powdered glass and acrylic resin. One advantage of a composite filling is that it can be shaded to match the color of the existing tooth which makes it less noticeable. Most patients want maintain their natural-looking smile, which has resulted in increasing popularity with composite fillings.

Composite material, however, is created from a less durable materials compared to amalgam fillings. As a result, composite filings don’t always last as long as alternative options. Composite is perfect for use in smaller fillings. It is optimal for use on teeth which only experience a moderate amount of pressure while chewing.


Gold is one of the most durable and long-lasting solutions available. According to the ADA, it can last for more than two decades. The durability associated with gold comes with a high price tag, as gold fillings are one of the most expensive solutions available. They are often used with indirect fillings and take more time to administer.


Porcelain fillings are comparable to gold. They are commonly used in indirect fillings, typically require more than one visit to the dentist and are more expensive. They also differ from gold fillings because they are more fragile. Porcelain has a more natural appearance and matches the tooth’s existing color.

Resin or Glass Lonomer

Children can get cavities as well. And even though the cavity is on a baby tooth, it needs to be filled. Resin or glass ionomer fillings are often used on the baby or primary teeth as a filling for smaller areas of decay. This type of filling tends to be quite delicate. When it is used on a permanent tooth, it is typically placed in an area which is not subject to a great deal of pressure or chewing.

While there are numerous options for tooth filling materials, work with your dentist to determine which solution will best meet your individual needs. It is also important to maintain good oral hygiene through twice daily brushing, flossing and regular visits to the dentist.

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