I need a filling - what types are there?

We will always advise you on what kind of filling material is suited to your situation. Talk to us if you would like a particular type of filling material such as tooth-coloured fillings.

There are a number of different fillings, including:

  • amalgam (silver coloured)
  • composite fillings (tooth coloured)
  • gold inlays and onlays (gold coloured)
  • porcelain/ceramic inlays (tooth coloured).

What are amalgam fillings?

Amalgam fillings are silver coloured. They are made by combining mercury and a silver alloy (50% mercury, 35% silver, and 15% tin, copper and other metals). Amalgam is long lasting and hard wearing and has been used in fillings for at least 150 years. It is economical to use and it is not unusual for an amalgam filling to last for over 10-12 years.

This kind of filling is usually used on the back 'chewing' teeth. Before the filling can be placed, we must prepare the area by removing all the decay and shaping the cavity to hold the filling in place.

Are there any risks from amalgam fillings?

The mercury in dental amalgam is not poisonous once it is combined with the other materials in the filling. Its chemical nature changes so that it is harmless.

Research into the safety of dental amalgam has been carried out for over 100 years. So far, no reputable ‘controlled' studies have found a connection between amalgam fillings and any medical problem.

What are composite fillings?

Composite fillings are strong, but may not be as hard wearing as amalgam fillings. Composite fillings are tooth coloured and are made from powdered glass quartz, silica or other ceramic particles added to a resin base. After the tooth is prepared, the filling is bonded onto the area and a light shone onto it to set it. We will choose a shade to match your own teeth, although over time staining can happen.

What are gold inlays and onlays?

These can be used in most areas of the mouth. An inlay is small and placed within the biting surface of the tooth. An onlay can cover a larger area of the tooth. Gold is the most long-lasting and hard-wearing filling material and will last for many years. An advantage of gold is that it does not tarnish and has great strength.

One of the differences between gold and other filling materials is that the gold filling is made in a laboratory. Your dentist here at My-Dental Care will take an impression of the prepared cavity and send it to the laboratory for the technician to make the inlay or onlay. In the meantime, a temporary filling will be placed in the cavity. After the gold inlay or onlay has been made, it will be fixed in place with dental cement. This type of filling is more expensive.

What are porcelain inlays?

Porcelain inlays are fillings that are made in a laboratory, but this will need at least two visits to your dentist. Porcelain has excellent aesthetic properties and is also hard wearing and long lasting. It can also be coloured to match your natural tooth. Again, this type of filling can be quite expensive.

Gold Inlay
Amalgam to Composite