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The Advantages & Disadvantages of Each Dental Filling Material

office dentist visit checking teeth on female patient

Dental fillings are used in order to fill in cavities in order to protect and preserve a tooth’s health from future damage or decay. When it comes to dental fillings there are a variety of different materials that are designed to meet a wide range of dental needs and budgets. So how should you know which dental filling material is right for you? Here are each of the different types of dental fillings and the pros and cons of each filling type.

Composite fillings

Composite fillings are made from a mixture of acrylic resin reinforced with other materials. This composite material starts off soft and malleable and is hardened using a specialized curing light and as a result can be used for restoring chipped teeth


  • Color can be matched to the patients teeth
  • Near indistinguishable from natural tooth color
  • Doesn’t require as much drilling as other types of fillings


  • Last about 3-8 years depending on size and location of filling
  • Not as durable as other material such as porcelain

Amalgam fillings

Amalgam, or silver fillings, was previously one of the most common types of fillings used. These fillings are typically made by a combination of metals which may include silver, tin, mercury, and copper. For this reason, although amalgam fillings are often regarded as silver fillings because of their color it is not necessarily an accurate name based on the materials used. Not used in most modern dental offices today.


  • In some situations it is more durable than most other types of fillings
  • Amalgam fillings are sometimes less expensive than other types of fillings


  • Silver appearance makes them stand out
  • Temperature changes can cause expansion and contraction which may damage the tooth
  • More of the tooth needs to be removed to place a silver filling
  • Although ADA approved, mercury is used in silver fillings which may be a concern to some
  • Can cause the tooth to darken do to the oxidation of the filling

Glass Ionomer

Glass Ionomer fillings are a flexible paste used to create a seal from the tooth to the surrounding surface. It is made of silicate glass powder and is also used as an adhesive during orthodontic dental work. Glass Ionomer fillings are typically only used on baby teeth or as temporary fillings


  • Can release fluoride over time to help aid in cavity prevention
  • Flexible material creates a tight bond to protect the tooth


  • Only used in adults for temporary restoration
  • Weakest type of filling even below composite
  • Only used for minor damage to the tooth

Gold fillings

Gold fillings were used as far back as the civil war era and were the most popular type of filling at the time due to its durability and it is still used today as a result. Gold fillings are a permanent restoration that can last a tremendously long time if taken care of


  • The longest lasting type of filling with the highest durability
  • Doesn’t oxidize in the mouth keeping the color of the filling throughout its lifetime
  • Has an appealing appearance for some


  • More expensive due to the material used
  • Color does not blend well with the rest of your teeth

Porcelain Fillings

Typically used for veneers as well as for large cavities, porcelain is a filling material known as an indirect filling which means it requires multiple visits to the dentist for it to be placed. Porcelain fillings are naturally colored making them an ideal choice if you are looking for nondescript restoration.


  • Natural looking fillings that blend in with the rest of your teeth
  • Lasts for as long as 15 plus years
  • Ideal for larger fillings - the larger the filling the stronger it is
  • Does not contain any mercury


  • Can be little more expensive than composite fillings
  • Requires more than one visit to be placed.

If you have any additional questions about the types of dental fillings and which might be best for your needs speak to one of our team members at Dental365 by scheduling an appointment online or calling our office today.


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