Dental Filling Facts: Choosing The Right One For Your Healthy Mouth

Posted on: 7 October 2016

If your dentist has told you that you have a cavity, you likely need a filling. There isn't just one "type" of filling. Dental fillings come in several different types of varieties. Knowing what these are beforehand can help you to better understand what your dentist is telling you during your visit. This means learning about the filling names, what materials they're made from, and why they're used. Keep in mind that your dentist has specialized education and experience in this area. While it's important to understand your options, the professional is the person who should make the final decision.

So, what types of dental fillings are commonly used?


All-porcelain fillings (or ceramic) look the most like the real tooth surface. Cosmetically, these are often a choice for patients who want a natural look. After the filling is in, it will look like a natural part of your tooth. These are fairly stain resistant, but can break more easily than other types of fillings.

Amalgam Fillings

These dental fillings are silver-colored and made from a combination of metals (mercury, silver, tin and copper). They tend to be less expensive than the porcelain type, and last longer. Dentists have been using amalgam for more than a century. These are typically used in bigger, back areas of the mouth. Why? The silver color is noticeable, making it not as desirable for a front-facing tooth. Even though having metal in your mouth may seem scary, these fillings have been evaluated (in many studies over a long period of time) as being safe.

Gold Alloy

This type of filling is a mix of gold and other metals. It is highly corrosion-resistant and durable and often lasts longer than other filling materials. Like amalgam, gold (or cast gold) fillings are noticeable. Some patients prefer to get this type of cavity fix in the back of the mouth for cosmetic reasons. That said, other patients may like (and want) the gold look—making it a choice for any tooth. Due to the use of real gold, these fillings tend to be expensive.

Composite Resin

A composite filling is usually made from glass and acrylic resin. This option isn't as durable as its metal counterparts, but is often a good pick for cosmetic reasons. It's tooth-colored, meaning that you can use it in the front or back of the mouth without noticing it.

Dental fillings are not all the same. From durability to aesthetics, each material and type has its pros and cons. When choosing a material to fill your cavity, your dentist will take your needs and the specific dental situation into consideration when making a selection that suits your mouth.