Tooth Filling Options

By  , Expert Content
Dec 04, 2012

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Several types of filling material are used. Commonly used materials for filling are gold, porcelain, a composite resin (tooth-colored fillings), and amalgam.




Amalgam is an alloy that contains mercury, silver, copper, tin and sometimes zinc. Mostly preferred for fillings in back teeth, can last from seven years to longer.



  • It is the least expensive kind of filling material.
  • It is strong material and can endure the forces of chewing.
  • An amalgam filling can be completed in one dental visit.


  • Is dark in color as compared to tooth colorFor a small cavity healthy parts of your tooth may have to be removed to make a space to hold an amalgam filling.
  • It may cause allergy in some people


Composite Resin


Contains plastic and fine glass particles. Is useful for filling of small and large cavities. Has the same color as the teeth and thus preferred for visible areas, such as front teeth. Lasts for about 5 years.



  • Same color as the teeth
  • Useful for filling of small and large cavities and usually needs less drilling than amalgam fillings.


  • Probably not as resistant and strong material as amalgam.




It is an alloy that contains gold and certain other metals. Can last seven years or more.



  • It is strong filling material and does not corrode
  • Can endure the forces of chewing.


  • Needs two visits
  • Is expensive (six to10 times more expensive than amalgam)
  • If placed next to amalgam fillings in your mouth, it can cause electric current from interactions between the metals and your saliva and give rise to discomfort.




It is made of porcelain and has a life of five to seven years.



  • Same color as tooth
  • Resistant to staining and abrasion as compared to composite resin.


  • More brittle as compared to composite resin.


Glass Ionomer


Made of acrylic and fluoroaluminosilicate (it is a component of glass). The filling can last for five years or more.



  • Same color as tooth but not as good as a match as composite resin.
  • Drilling is usually not needed for filling the cavity. Thus it is a useful material for small children.
  • Releases fluoride and aids to prevent further tooth decay.


  • Considerably weaker as compared to composite resin.
  • More prone to wear or fracture.
  • Does not match the tooth of color like composite resin.


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