Tooth filling or dental filling is a proven way to treat, repair, and restore a decayed tooth. Various types of dental filling material are available for filling your teeth.

At Coral Dental Care in Salem, MA, you can make an informed choice about which type of dental filling is right in your case of the cavity.

What is Tooth Filling?

Your teeth can be worn down with cavity because of multiple dental issues such as tooth decay, teeth cracks, and broken teeth. A tooth filling is a solution to all these issues. The dentist takes out the decayed portion of your tooth and fills that place with the tooth filling. Voila! You are good to go with your healthy smile again.

In this article, you will get a deep dive into different types of dental filling, their advantages & disadvantages, how tooth filling is done, and much more.

What is the Procedure for Cavity Filling?

Dental filling

Following are the steps involved in filling your teeth:

  1. First of all, the dentist will apply local anesthesia to numb the area around your affected tooth.
  2. Next, the dentist will remove the decayed area with the help of a suitable instrument. It can either be a drill, laser instrument, or air abrasion instrument.
  3. After double-checking that all the decay and debris are removed, the dentist will clean the area.
  4. The dentist will do the filling and will polish it to give it a finish.
  5. A glass ionomer liner will be put in to protect the nerves for the filling near the root.
  6. In case of a tooth-colored filling, the dentist also needs to use a special light to harden it. And it will be applied in layers for a better finish.

What Are the Different Types of Dental Filling?

There are different types of dental filling available. Following are the details of various types of filling along with their advantages and disadvantages. However, the right kind of cavity filing for you depends upon the criticality of your cavity.

Composite Fillings

It is one of the most used dental fillings. A composite filling is made of different resins.


  • It can be used to repair tooth structure apart from cavity filling.
  • Matches with the color of teeth.
  • Bonds well with teeth.


  • Last only for 5 years while some other types of material can last for 10-15 years.
  • It is expensive.
  • More visits to the dentist might be required to set it.

Silver Amalgam Fillings

As the name suggests, this tooth filling is the amalgamation of silver with mercury, zinc, tin, and copper. It is pretty popular for being long-lasting and less expensive.


  • It lasts for 10-15 years.
  • It has the strength to bear chewing forces.
  • It is easily affordable.


  • It doesn’t match with the natural color of the teeth and gets highlighted.
  • Healthy parts of the teeth also need to be removed to make space for silver amalgamation filling.
  • It can easily get cracked or fractured.
  • It creates a greyish hue in the surrounding tooth after some time.
  • It’s not suitable for people who are allergic to mercury.

Glass Ionomer Fillings

It is excellent for kids as glass ionomer fillings release fluoride into their newly forming teeth. It is made of a mix of glass and plastic.


  • It releases fluoride.
  • It can be used for cavity filling below the gum line.


  • It is weaker in comparison to composite filling but almost costs the same.
  • Less durable; prone to breakage and fracture.


Ceramic Fillings

It is made of porcelain material. The ceramic filling is mainly preferred among different fillings for teeth because it is durable and tooth-colored.


  • Generally lasts for more than 15 years.
  • It is stain-resistant.
  • Cosmetically appealing because it matches perfectly with tooth color.


  • It is very expensive, costs as much as gold.

Gold Fillings

It is made of gold, so it’s costly. That makes it the least used type of filling.


  • It is durable for at least 15 years.
  • Aesthetically pleasing to some people.


  • It costs you a bomb.
  • It might require multiple visits to place it.

What Are Indirect Fillings?

Indirect fillings are used when the damage in tooth structure is not suitable to either get a crown or a dental filling. Indirect fillings are made in the laboratory, and they require at least 2 visits before being placed. The cavity is removed, and the impression of your teeth is taken during the first visit. This impression is used to create the indirect filling for you in the lab. During your second visit, the indirect filling is restored on your tooth.

There are 2 types of indirect fillings:

  1. Inlays – They work within the cusps on the chewing surface of the tooth.
  2. Onlays – They cover more than one cusp. They are also called partial crowns.

Dental hygiene kit

How to Care for Teeth After Fillings?

You can maintain your tooth filling in a better way and for a longer time by following these tips:

  • Follow good oral hygiene. Brush and floss regularly. Also, use mouthwash.
  • Use fluoride-rich toothpaste.
  • Don’t miss your dentist appointment. They can detect early if there is any problem with your dental filling. They can also do an X-ray if needed.
  • Contact your dentist immediately if you suspect sensitivity in your tooth or any cracking or breaking of your tooth filling.

What is Temporary Filling?

A temporary filling is done when you need more than one appointment for your permanent tooth filling. It is also helpful in case of a root canal, emergency dental treatment, or if the nerve of your tooth needs to be settled down. A temporary filling can last till the time your permanent dental filling can replace it.

Is Temporary Filling Safe?

They are perfectly safe for a limited period only. Afterward, they crack and can cause tooth infections. Thus you need to replace them with permanent filling timely.

How Long Does a Temporary Filling Last?

It lasts for few weeks, a maximum of a month.

When Does Your Dentist Need to Replace Your Dental Filling?

Your dentist needs to replace your dental filling in the following circumstances:

  • Breaking Down of the Seal – The bacteria can penetrate under the filling through food particles if the filling seal breaks down. This will ultimately lead to tooth decay. Thus your dentist will suggest you to replace your tooth filling at the earliest in this case.
  • Need a Crown – You need to replace your tooth filling with a crown if you don’t have enough tooth structure for a filling. It happens when the filling is considerably large or the decay is recurrent and extensive.
  • Wear & Tear – Sometimes, dental fillings wear down before time due to constant pressure of chewing, clenching, or grinding. They can also chip or break. If your dentist notices anything like that during your check-up, they will need to replace the filling.

How do Dentists Replace Fillings?

The process of replacing tooth filling is the same as the procedure for first-time cavity filling. The only difference is that the dentist removes the old filling entirely instead of removing the decayed area of your tooth. Then, they replace it with the new filling.

Does Dental Insurance Cover the Cost of Composite Fillings?

There are many types of dental insurance plans. Thus, you should always consult your dental care insurance provider before starting your tooth filling procedure. Maximum dental insurance plans cover the cost up to the silver filling. You need to bear the difference if your dental filling cost is more than the cost covered by your insurance company.


It would be best to visit your dentist as soon as you spot decay in your tooth because early treatment is always better. The extent of the decay, location of the decayed teeth, cost of the filling, and your insurance coverage need to be considered to decide upon the right tooth filling in your case. The dentist will recommend the best possible type of filling to restore your tooth to its natural state based on these factors.

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