Why are there different types of fillings?

Dentists have been using fillings for more than a century to restore and protect teeth, but there is evidence that shows humans used various materials to fill in areas of damaged teeth much earlier.

Now days, when your dentist needs to fill a cavity, they have a variety of materials to choose from.

Dental fillings are restorations used to fill in the area where cavities have damaged teeth. First your dentist cleans out the part of the tooth that’s damaged, leaving a hole. Then he will fill that space to even out the surface of the tooth and to protect it from further decay.

Today, dentists use several different types of filling materials.

Silver Amalgam

Silver amalgam fillings are the shiny metal fillings you see in some people’s mouths. They are produced from a variety of different materials, including mercury, silver, tin, and copper.

The mercury content makes up approximately 50 percent of the material and the American Dental Association assures us that amalgam fillings are safe, as mercury isn’t considered toxic once it’s combined with the other materials.

Many folks, however, don’t want the appearance of metal in their mouths and prefer a restoration option that looks more natural.

Composite Resin

Composite resin fillings have become a popular alternative to silver amalgam fillings, though they cost a bit more. Made of porcelain, these fillings are durable as well as aesthetically pleasing.

Porcelain Fillings

Porcelain is a type of ceramic and is designed to match the color of your teeth. These fillings can last more than 20 years, contain no metals, have no potential for allergic reactions, and are resistant to staining over time.

Using ceramic instead of a composite though, means that it is more brittle and needs to be larger to prevent breaking. Ceramic restorations are typically referred to as inlays or onlays.


Gold used to be much more common than it is today, as well as more expensive and not very common. It can sometimes be difficult to find a dentist who offers gold as an option and it takes more than one visit to fit a gold filling properly.

Gold is sturdy and it doesn’t corrode, so a gold filling can last for more than 15 years.

Glass Ionomer

These are glass-and-acrylic fillings are commonly used to fill cavities on the front teeth or around the tooth roots and are good for children whose teeth are still changing. They last less than five years but release fluoride, helping to protect a tooth from further decay. They’re significantly weaker than composite resin and more likely to crack or wear out, and do not match tooth color as well as composite resin.

Whether you have a dental emergency, some pain that isn’t going away, or simply need a cleaning and check-up, let American Dental Group’s preferred partners help you out.  Our independent, hometown dentists are located up and down the Front Range so there’s sure to be a location near you.

Give us a call at 800-633-3010 for more information.

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