What Are Dental Fillings?


A dental filling is required when a hole (also known as a cavity) forms in a tooth. The dentist will remove the decay from the cavity and then fill in the hole in the tooth with a special material to restore the appearance and function of the tooth. There are several materials that can be used for dental fillings, depending on how much you would like to spend and how natural you would like the results to be.





You may be a suitable candidate for dental fillings if you have:

  • A tooth cavity caused by decay
  • Broken fillings
  • Mercury fillings
  • Amalgam fillings.

Old mercury or amalgam fillings can easily be removed and replaced with tooth coloured (composite) fillings that are stronger than the previous fillings, and that also provide a more pleasing appearance.

Dentists use dental fillings to fill holes or cavities that have formed in the teeth as a result of decay or wear. There are now a number of different filling types available, to suit different types of tooth cavities. These include:

Dental Amalgam:

An amalgam filling is a self-hardening mixture of silver-tin-copper alloy powder and liquid mercury. It is often used as a filling material and replacement for broken teeth. This material is durable, long lasting, strong, holds up to the force of biting, usually completed in one visit, resists leakage and is cheaper than the composites. But the amalgam fillings, has disadvantages; they may stain teeth over time, may make tooth more sensitive to hot and cold and because its contain of mercury, can expand to hot drinks and contract to cold drinks, creating pressure on the natural tooth and generating fractures. Also referred to as a silver filling.

Composite Resin:

It’s a mixture of powdered glass and plastic resin. Its durable, resists breaking, does not corrode, resists leakage if they are done under the specified conditions (total isolation to avoid contact with saliva during the process) and holds up well to forces of biting because of its flexibility. The composite fillings are more expensive than dental amalgam and may leak and stain over time. Also referred to as a white, plastic or tooth-coloured filling.

Glass Ionomer Cement:

This is a self-hardening mixture of glass powder and inorganic acid. It’s usually used for small fillings, crowns, liners and temporary restorations. Is especially good because releases fluoride (may provide help against further decay), can be completed in one visit, and has low incidence of producing tooth sensitivity. The material has good aesthetics but not as good as the composite fillings. The cost is similar to Composite resin and is not recommended for biting surfaces on permanent teeth.

Before having a cavity filled, you should talk with your dentist about the different materials used to fill cavities and determine which material is best for you.

Filling of teeth with cavities are also called tooth restorations.