Which type of dental filling is right for you?

Worried about the safety of dental fillings? Learn a little bit more about each type to help you make an informed decision

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dentist

Silver amalgam

What it's made of: Mix of metals (silver, mercury, tin and copper).

Advantages
• Lasts at least 10 to 15 years
• Can be placed in one visit
• Withstands chewing forces in back teeth
• Resistance to further decay is high
• Frequency of repair and replacement is low
• Less expensive than composite resin*

Disadvantages
• More destruction of healthy tooth structure is necessary to fit it in, as it is held by mechanical retention and not bonding
• May create greyish discoloration to surrounding tooth structure
• May experience wider degree of expansion when exposed to hot and cold liquids, leading to possible cracks and fractures in the tooth
• Silver filling does not match colour of natural teeth, and may darken over time as it corrodes
• Some patients may be sensitive or allergic to amalgam

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filling

Composite resin

What it's made of: Mix of synthetic resins and glass

Advantages

• Chemically bonded to tooth structure to provide more support
• Can be placed in front or back teeth
• Versatile (in addition to fillings, it can also be used to repair chips)
• Usually can be placed in one visit
• Less of the healthy tooth structure is removed than with amalgam fillings
• Can be easily repaired
• Shade closely matches natural tooth colour

Disadvantages
• Lasts at least five years depending on the load it is under (may last longer when placed in front teeth)
• Takes up to 20 minutes longer than amalgams to place
• About 20 percent more expensive than amalgam fillings*
• If used for inlays (restore inside of tooth) or onlay (restore surface of tooth), more than one visit is required
• Chipping of resin can occur
• Patients may experience post-treatment sensitivity for up to one month

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oral health dentist teeth

Gold alloy

What it's made of: Mix of gold and other metals such as silver and copper

Advantages
• Lasts at least 10 to 15 years
• Does not corrode
• Withstands chewing force in back teeth

Disadvantages
• Expensive compared to amalgam
or composite resin fillings*
• Placement next to a silver filling may rarely result in occurrence of
a sharp pain (galvanic shock)
• Requires at least two dentist visits
to fit them properly

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oral health dentist

Porcelain ceramic

What it's made of: Porcelain

Advantages
• More resistant to staining than composite resin
• Lasts more than 15 years
• Shade matches natural tooth colour

Disadvantages
• More of the healthy tooth is removed for the required metal substructure
• May not withstand chewing force in back teeth
• More abrasive to other teeth than composite resin
• As expensive as gold fillings (up to five times the cost of amalgam, and up to three times the cost of composite fillings)*

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sensitive teeth toothache

Glass ionomer

What it's made of: Mix of fine glass powders and acrylic acids

Advantages
• Ideal for fillings below or at the gum line, and in children because it releases fluoride, which helps prevent recurrent tooth decay
• Simpler to place than composites

Disadvantages
• Will not withstand chewing force in back teeth
• Can be dislodged
• More expensive than amalgam*
• Weaker than composites and therefore more susceptible to fractures
• Lasts at least five years

 

*If you have dental insurance, check to determine what's covered for you.

 

Related:
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7 things that can ruin your teeth
7 ways oral health affects overall health