Dental fillings are one of the most common dental procedures performed by dentists today and are used to treat cavities and fix damage caused by decay. According to the American Dental Association, about 175 million filling operations are performed in the United States every year. That is a lot of fillings, but what exactly is a filling?

Types of Fillings

There are 5 types of fillings.


  1. Amalgam Filling – This type of filling, also known as a silver filling, has been used for over 150 years. Amalgam is defined as a mixture or blend. In the dental world it is a mixture of metals – about 50 percent mercury with the remaining 50 percent being comprised of tin, copper, silver, or zinc. Amalgam fillings are the least expensive, very strong, and last a long time; however, it is silver in color so it’s not as visually appealing when opening your mouth.
  2. Composite Filling – This type of filling is ideal if you want your filling to look natural and match your other teeth. Composite fillings can be closely matched to the color of your existing teeth and are very desirable if you need a filling on your front teeth or the visible parts of your teeth. Although a composite filling is more aesthetically pleasing, they are not as durable as amalgam fillings. That being said, a typical composite filling can last five years, sometimes longer, if you practice good oral hygiene.
  3. Metal – This type of filling, also known as a gold filling, is extremely durable and can last upwards of 10 to 15 years; however, the cost of a metal filling can be 10 times higher than the cost of a silver amalgam filling. The look of this filling is also not as aesthetically pleasing as a composite filling.
  4. Ceramic – This type of filling is typically made from porcelain and is more resistant to staining than a composite filling. It lasts more than 15 years, but can cost as much as a gold metal filling.
  5. Glass Ionomer Filling – This type of filling is commonly used for fillings that are below the gum line and fillings on young children. It is made from acrylic and a special type of glass material. This filling releases fluoride into the mouth which assists in preventing more decay and helps to protect the tooth. This type of filling is comparable to the cost of a composite filling.

The type of filling you receive is based on factors such as location and extent of the decay, cost of the filling material, insurance coverage, and of course what your dentist recommends.

How to Prevent Cavities

Cavities are permanently damaged areas in the hard surface of your teeth that develop into tiny openings or holes. If cavities are not treated, they can cause sensitivity, pain, infections, and can even cause you to lose your teeth. Although cavities are treated by fillings, there are things you can do to prevent cavities from occurring and avoid needing a filling . . . or two or three.

  1. Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste.
  2. Drink water with fluoride.
  3. Floss daily.
  4. Eat a balanced diet.
  5. Limit sweet snacks between meals.
  6. Stay away from sugary foods and drinks and try not to sip or eat on them all day. If you want a sugary food or drink, have one at mealtimes.
  7. Visit your dentist regularly.

If you’re experiencing pain or it’s been a while since you’ve seen a dentist, Roseman Dental can help. Contact us today.

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