A filling helps to restore a tooth damaged by decay back to its normal function and shape, and helps prevent further decay by eliminating areas where bacteria can enter the tooth. Your dentist will consider a number of factors when choosing which type of filling material is best for you; this includes the extent of the repair, whether you have allergies to certain dental materials, where in your mouth the filling is needed and the cost.
There are various types of fillings available including:
Composite Fillings – A composite resin filling is made from a mixture of plastic and fine glass particles and matches the color of the tooth. Thus, composite fillings are used most often on front teeth or the visible parts of the tooth. Composite fillings bond directly to the tooth, reducing the drilling needed (like for a amalgam filling) and they are stronger than amalgam fillings.
Amalgam Fillings – Amalgam fillings are made from a mixture of metals including mercury and silver, and thus doesn’t match the color of your teeth. This type of filling is used most often for fillings in the back teeth. These fillings are very strong and usually last at least ten years if not longer.
Gold Fillings – Gold fillings are made from gold allow which is extremely durable. This type of filling lasts longer than any other type. Gold fillings do not match the natural color of your teeth and are expensive, they usually cost six to ten times more than amalgam.
Ceramic Fillings – Ceramic fillings are made of porcelain and are tooth colored, so they look natural. Ceramic fillings are more brittle than composite resin and can break but they are also more resistant to staining. Ceramic fillings are expensive, and can cost as much or more than gold fillings.
Glass Ionomer – Glass Ionomer fillings are made from acrylic and fluoroaluminosilicate, a component of glass. This type of filling is very strong and most often used in people with a lot of decay in the part of the tooth that extends below the gum. It is also used for filling baby teeth.1