Different Types of Tooth Fillings

A dental filling procedure is a very common approach used by dentist to treat a decayed portion of a tooth. Your dentist may suggest a dental filling if they identify some areas of decay in your mouth. There are different types of dental fillings and which type your dentist decides on will likely be a result of their preference and your needs. Below is more detailed information on different types of dental fillings.

What is the purpose of a dental filling?

First, what is a dental filling? A filling is treatment procedure used to treat the decayed area of a tooth, a cavity. Usually the dentist will remove the decayed portion, with a drill, and then fill the space with a composite material that will harden. Once the filling is complete the tooth will function and appear normal. The filling is intended to be permanent, but can crack or become loose over time and need to be repaired or replaced.


There are five common types of dental fillings that are used by dentist:

  • Amalgam: Amalgam fillings are made of a mix of silver, tin, zinc, copper and mercury. Usually over half of the mixture is made of mercury. This type of filling is more common for fillings in the back teeth. Amalgam fillings can last at least 10 years and are the least expensive type. Further, this filling mixture results in a tough filling that is durable and can hold up. Additionally, due to the addition of mercury, some individuals prefer not to get amalgam fillings.
  • Composite Resin: Composite fillings are made of a mixture of plastic and fine glass particles. This type of filling material is often used for both small and large fillings, often for the front of teeth or teeth in the front of the mouth. Composite fillings last on average around five years. Composite fillings require less drilling than other types and also match the color of your teeth very closely.
  • Cast Gold: A gold alloy filling is usually made of gold and a mixture of other metals. The gold fillings last at least 15 years and do not corrode or breakdown over time. They are very durable. There is a higher price for cast gold fillings, up to 5-10 times more expensive than the other types.
  • Ceramic: Ceramic fillings are usually made of porcelain. This type of filling can last more than 7 years. Ceramic fillings are tooth-colored and blend in nicely in your mouth, they are also resistant to stains or discoloration. That being said, ceramic fillings are not the most durable, they can break easier than a composite filling and often cost more.
  • Glass Lonomer: Glass fillings are made of acrylic and fluoroaluminosilicate, which is a component of glass. This type of filling is set differently than the others, with a blue light, and is known to be very strong. This type of filling is often used when the cavity is in a part of the tooth where it could damage the foundation of the tooth, and more strength is needed, for example around the neck of the tooth. This type of filling is unique in that it releases fluoride into the tooth, which can help protect from further damage.

More About Dental Fillings : How much to fillings cost?