Tooth Fillings: Pros and Cons of the Different Types of Filling Available

Tooth Fillings: Pros and Cons of the Different Types of Filling Available

One of the most common procedures that dentists perform is the repair of decayed teeth and the filling of cavities brought about by such decay. When it comes to this particular dental process, you will find that you actually have quite a few choices. These various options bring with them a few pros and cons, which you should know about before you make your decision regarding what type of tooth filling you should have your dentist use on your teeth.

Amalgam – this is probably the oldest type of filling around, and is easy to distinguish due to its silvery color. Some people think that this filling option is made entirely out of silver, but in reality, it is actually a combination of a few metals which includes silver, tin and mercury. This particular filling choice has slowly been losing out on other types of fillings, mainly because of its mercury content, which is considered toxic.

While an amalgam filling is still one of the more inexpensive and more durable options you have, it is still one of the types less favored by those who need fillings due to the fact that the metal darkens over time. The use of amalgam also requires the removal of parts of your tooth which are still healthy, in order for the filling to adhere properly. This choice also brings with it the possibility of cold and heat sensitivity since this is made out of metal.

Composite – this is the second most used filling around, although it is fast becoming the top choice by many after vast improvements were made to its durability and appearance. This particular type of filling is more natural looking, and does not require that dentists remove too much of the healthy tooth for the filling to stick properly. This option does not corrode or darken like metal fillings, may bond to the tooth for added strength, and is great for smaller cavities.

What you might not like about this filling choice however is the fact that it is not a good choice for when you need to repair larger cavities, and is more expensive than amalgam fillings. Composite fillings also take longer for dentists to place and are prone to stains from coffee and tea.

Ceramic – sometimes called porcelain fillings, this option is not attached to your tooth like amalgam or composite fillings. The material used to cover up the cavity is actually formed in a dental lab, and is shaped to fit the cavity perfectly. Since this is made out of a material that can easily look like your original tooth, it is very natural looking and blends in perfectly.

This filling is cemented into the cavity and is very long lasting, since porcelain is a very durable material. What you might not like about this is that ceramic fillings are more expensive than amalgam or composite ones, and may require the removal of a greater amount of healthy tooth material than amalgam fillings due to its bulky nature. It may also take a couple of visits to the dentist before this filling is in place.

Gold – this is another option you have when it comes to dental fillings. As you may already know, this is the most expensive option available, and is only considered by those who want a very durable filling for their tooth. This is crafted the same way porcelain fillings are made, and is chosen by those who want a tarnish resistant and corrosion resistant filling that also won’t let saliva, bacteria and food bits seep through to the cavity.

This choice is very obvious however, since it is not natural looking. It is also very expensive (almost 10 times more expensive than the cheapest filling option) and can conduct cold as well as heat the first few weeks that you have it.

These are four of the filling options dentists use on their patients’ teeth. What you choose will greatly depend on how much you can shell out for these, how big a cavity needs to be filled, and what your personal preference is.

Dr. Allan Hawryluk
Follow Us

Dr. Allan Hawryluk

Allan Hawryluk Jr. is a Mississauga-based dentist who has built a reputation for comprehensive dental care. Born and raised in Port Credit, he returned after completing his dental residency in 2003 at the University of Colorado, Denver Health Sciences Center. He feels privileged to serve the community and is committed to maintaining our clinic standards set by his late father - Dr. Allan R. Hawryluk (Sr).