Commonly Used Materials for Dental Fillings

Dental fillings are very common in dentistry, with many patients receiving at least one filling at some point in time. However, the materials used for fillings have changed over the years. Nonetheless, there are still a variety of materials a dentist may use.

The fillings of old

Fillings are nothing new. In fact, researchers have discovered ancient fillings made from beeswax dated at 6,500 years old! While beeswax certainly is not used today, modern dentists routinely see patients with outdated fillings.

Amalgam, which is a blend of metals including mercury, first appeared a little over 100 years ago. Over time, the amount of mercury used has decreased as health concerns arose over its toxicity. However, there is still concern among some dentists and patients about the amount of mercury in some amalgam fillings.

Modern fillings

Today, fillings use a variety of materials. Silver amalgams remain popular, along with porcelain and composite resin fillings. Amalgams still contain a small amount of mercury, which is a point of contention among some dentists. These dentists, referred to as mercury-free dentists, refuse to use any fillings containing mercury.

In practice, it is not necessary to have an amalgam filling. In fact, with the advent of dental implants, fillings are often skipped entirely in favor of this more durable option. However, because many patients require a more affordable option, and because fillings are acceptable when addressing a single tooth, they are still very commonly used.

Advantages of each material

Each material has its own individual pros and cons. The choice of material is generally made by the dentist with input and consent from the patient.

Silver amalgam fillings

Silver amalgam fillings are a blend of silver, zinc, tin, mercury and copper. It is strong, affordable and durable. Silver amalgam fillings can easily last for 15 years or longer. However, many patients do not find the appearance attractive. Additionally, the amalgam may contract or expand and cause cracks in the host tooth, requiring routine examination to prevent this from occurring. Of course, some are also concerned about the presence of mercury.

Composite fillings

Made of resin and plastic, composite fillings match the color of existing teeth. However, they are typically more expensive, and don’t last as long. Some patients need composite fillings replaced as often as every five years.

Ceramic fillings

Both attractive and durable, ceramic fillings are a popular choice, but they are also more expensive. Ceramics are composed of porcelain and can be matched to the color of natural teeth easily. They also retain their color with excellent resistance to abrasion and stains. However, in addition to the price, ceramics also are more brittle, which requires the filling to be larger.

Glass ionomer fillings

A unique type of filling, glass ionomers last for under five years on average. They do release fluoride, but do not match natural teeth particularly well. These properties work well for children’s teeth.

Gold fillings

Lastly, gold fillings are exceptionally rare due to their price. While sturdy and resistant to corrosion, the expense keeps most dentists from even offering them as an option.


There are many materials used in fillings, each with their own unique advantages and disadvantages. Patients and dentists will need to consider appearance, durability and budget when making a decision.

Are you considering dental fillings in the Newtown area? Get more information at

Check out what others are saying about our services on Yelp: Read our Yelp reviews.

Related Posts

Why Oral Hygiene Is Important During Invisalign Treatment

If you plan to get Invisalign®, you should know that oral hygiene is important. Read on to learn about the importance of oral hygiene during Invisalign teeth straightening treatment. This highly successful therapy straightens your teeth using custom-made transparent aligners in roughly the same length of time as conventional braces. The aligners are discreet, making…

What You Cannot Eat Or Drink During Invisalign Therapy

Invisalign® is a great option for dental patients who have issues with their teeth alignment. Read on to learn about dietary restrictions while undergoing Invisalign treatment. The aligner trays are removable, which means patients can take them out when it is time to eat or brush their teeth. It is also easy to brush your…

4 Myths About Cosmetic Dentistry

Cosmetic dentistry involves the implementation of measures to improve the appearance of your teeth, gums, and mouth. Your smile conveys your feelings, makes others feel welcomed, and reduces stress. Unfortunately, those self-conscious about their teeth may not smile in public. Cosmetic dentistry may help some patients feel more confident about their smiles.Many people are not…

Warning Signs Of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a potentially serious condition in which your breathing starts and stops repeatedly during sleep. It is fairly common and fortunately, it is also treatable. If you think you are dealing with sleep apnea, it is important to obtain a diagnosis and get treatment so you can avoid severe side effects of the…