Tooth Cavity Fillings

Cavity fillings are a great way to restore the health of your teeth. But, it’s not always easy to find a dentist who can provide them for you. Keels Family & Cosmetic Dentistry is here to help you with all of your dental needs.

What are Tooth Cavity Fillings?

Dental fillings are temporary restorations to fill in gaps in the teeth. They are made of composite materials, which are similar to resins or cement. There is a wide variety of dental fillings that can be used depending on the shape and size of the tooth. A dental filling is suited to a range of conditions and can help repair broken teeth or tooth decay or help make your tooth look more attractive.

What are Commonly Used Materials for Dental Fillings?

Materials for dental fillings may vary depending on your desired results. Here are some materials that are commonly used today:

  • Porcelain
  • Gold
  • Composite
  • Silver Amalgam Fillings

The type of filling you need depends on your location and the extent of decay, what material you’re filling with, if you have any kind of insurance, and if your dentist recommends or approves a particular type.

Cavity Tooth Filling

Are there advantages and disadvantages to various filling materials?

Yes. Advantages and disadvantages of the various dental filling materials are as follows:


  • Gold: Lasts at least 10 to 15 years, some say gold presents a pleasing appearance.

  • Silver fillings (amalgams): Lasts at least 10 to 15 years, less expensive than composite fillings.

  • Tooth-colored composite fillings: Shade can be closely matched to color of existing teeth, bonds to existing tooth providing additional support, commonly used for repairs other than cavity filling, sometimes less tooth needs to be removed compared with amalgams.

  • Ceramics/porcelain: Lasts more than 15 years, more resistant to staining than composite resin material.

  • Glass ionomer (acrylic and a specific type of glass material): Mostly used for fillings below the gum line, releases fluoride that can help protect from further tooth decay.


  • Gold: More expensive than other materials, may require more than one office visit to place.

  • Silver: May require more tooth to be removed to make space large enough to hold filling, creates grayish hue to the surrounding tooth structure, may have higher risk of tooth cracks and fractures due to wider degree of expansion and contraction, allergic potential in some people.

  • Tooth-colored composite fillings: Lasts at least five years (less than the 10 to 15 years of other materials), may chip off tooth depending on location, can cost up to twice as much as amalgams, can take more time to place and/or additional visits.

  • Ceramics: Can cost as much as gold.

  • Glass ionomer: Is weaker than composite resin, more likely to wear and prone to fracture, lasts five years or less, costs comparable to composite fillings.

Types of Cavity Fillings

The method that dentists apply depends upon which type of filler you receive. This Filling can help restore the health and functioning of your teeth. Different fillings vary in color and strength. There are two major types of composite amalgams, but we have a few other types that may be considered as an alternative.

Amalgam Fillings

Dental technicians used amalgam fillings for nearly 100 years. This filling is robust and hence ideal to handle the force your molars require as they chew. Amalgam fillers have various materials incorporated in them and include various metallic components. This makes them sometimes apparent if one smiles. If amalgam fillings are most affordable then perhaps you’d prefer something a bit less complicated.

Silver Fillings (Amalgams)

Advantages of silver filling: Disadvantages of silver fills: The mercury in the amalgam releases small amounts of mercury in vapor allowing it to be inhaled into the lungs. In humans mercury vapors are a cause of adverse neurological reactions. The FDA says amalgam fillings are not harmful and are safe for people ages 4 and over unless they’re administered for medical purposes.

Composite fillings

Composite fillings are an effective solution for long-term resiliency. The filling resin, also called filling resin, is created using quartz filler and glazed glass. As with traditional ceramic filling, composites match your teeth color. This material is most suitable for smaller and midsize restorations. Composite products can help improve mouth area sensitivity to mild chewing.


Silver or gold alloys are available to fill cavity cavities. Gold filling can be expensive though. Some people favor gold over silver to ensure durability. You can choose to avoid using metal filling because it may affect their appearance. Metal fillings typically take around a 10-year period for replacement.


Ceramic fillings usually consist in porcelain. The filling is tooth-colored and thus less noticeable. The filling has lower stains than other types. While ceramic filler is effective in preventing cavities, it is more costly in some cases. Ceramic fillings are often as costly as gold fillings.

Glass Ionomers

The fillings are made using glass-acrylic mixture. Glass ions are designed to fill cavities with fluoride for protection of your mouth. Glass Ionomers are more resistant than some cavity-filled fillings. The filling can be replaced in 5 years.

Is Amalgam filling safe?

Yes, amalgam filling is considered a safe, reliable, and cost-effective way to restore teeth and is approved by the American Dental Association. Amalgam has been used for over 150 years and is made of a mixture of metals, including mercury, copper, zinc, and silver.

What are indirect fillings?

Indirect fillings are like composite/tooth-colored fillings but they are made in dental laboratories and require two dental visits. Indirect filling may be considered if inadequate tooth structure remains for supporting the filling but the tooth is less damaged than necessary. Crowns. On a first visit, decay can also be removed. A photograph is made to determine the tooth to be replaced along with the surrounding teeth. It will go to a dental laboratory for direct filling. A temporary filling can be used as protection for teeth when restorations are done.

There are two types of indirect fillings – inlays and onlays.

  • Inlays are similar to fillings but the entire work lies within the cusps (bumps) on the chewing surface of the tooth.
  • Onlays are more extensive than inlays, covering one or more cusps. Onlays are sometimes called partial crowns.

Inlays and onlays are more durable and last much longer than traditional fillings – up to 30 years. They can be made of tooth-colored composite resin, porcelain or gold. Inlays and onlays weaken the tooth structure, but do so to a much lower extent than traditional fillings.

Another type of inlay and onlay – direct inlays and onlays – follow the same processes and procedures as the indirect, the difference is that direct inlays and onlays are made in the dental office and can be placed in one visit. The type of inlay or onlay used depends on how much sound tooth structure remains and cosmetic concerns.

What’s a temporary filling and why would I need one?

You might need a temporary fillings:

  • If more than one appointment is needed for your filling. For example, before placement of gold fillings and for indirect fillings that use composite materials.
  • Following a root canal.
  • To allow your tooth’s nerve to “settle down” if the pulp became irritated.
  • If emergency dental treatment is needed (such as to address a toothache).

Temporary fillings are just that; they are not meant to last. They usually fall out, fracture, or wear out within one month. Be sure to keep your appointment to have your temporary filling replaced with a permanent one. If you don’t, your tooth could become infected or you could have other complications.

What steps are involved in filling a tooth?

First, your dentist will numb the area around the tooth to be worked on with a local anesthetic. Next, a drill, air abrasion instrument or laser will be used to remove the decayed area. The choice of instrument depends on your dentist’s comfort level, training, and investment in the particular piece of equipment as well as location and extent of the decay.

Next, your dentist will probe or test the area during the decay removal process to determine if all the decay has been removed. Once the decay has been removed, your dentist will prepare the space for the filling by cleaning the cavity of bacteria and debris. If the decay is near the root, your dentist may first put in a liner made of glass ionomer, composite resin, or other material to protect the nerve. Generally, after the filling is in, your dentist will finish and polish it.

Several additional steps are required for tooth-colored fillings and are as follows. After your dentist has removed the decay and cleaned the area, the tooth-colored material is applied in layers. Next, a special light that “cures” or hardens each layer is applied. When the multilayering process is completed, your dentist will shape the composite material to the desired result, trim off any excess material and polish the final restoration.

How should I care for my teeth with fillings?


To maintain your fillings, you should follow good oral hygiene practices:

  • Visiting your dentist regularly (twice a year) for cleanings.

  • Brush with a fluoride-containing toothpaste.

  • Floss at least once daily.

Call your dentist if:

  • Your tooth is extremely sensitive.

  • You feel a sharp edge.

  • You notice a crack in a filling or if a piece of the filling is missing.

Your dentist will take X-rays if he or she suspects that one of your fillings might be cracked or is “leaking” (when the sides of the filling don’t fit tightly against the tooth, debris and saliva can seep down between the filling and the tooth, which leads to decay).

What causes tooth sensitivity after getting a dental filling?

Tooth sensitivity after placement of a filling is fairly common. Your tooth may be sensitive to pressure, air, sweet foods, or temperature. Usually, the sensitivity goes away on its own within a few weeks. Until then, avoid the cause of the sensitivity. You usually don’t need to take a pain reliever.

Contact your dentist if the sensitivity doesn’t go away within two to four weeks or if your tooth is extremely sensitive. He or she may recommend using a desensitizing toothpaste, may apply a desensitizing agent to the tooth, or possibly suggest a root canal procedure.

Why do I feel pain around my dental filling?

There are several reasons why you might have pain after a dental filling. Each has a different cause.

    • Pain when you bite: Your filling is interfering with your bite. Return to your dentist and have the filling reshaped.

    • Pain when your teeth touch: Your pain is likely caused by the touching of two different metal surfaces (for example, the silver amalgam in a newly filled tooth and a gold crown on another tooth with which it touches). This pain should go away on its own within a short period of time.

    • Toothache-type pain: This pain might occur if the decay was very deep to the pulp of the tooth. This “toothache” response may mean this tissue is no longer healthy and a root canal procedure is needed.

    • Referred pain: Referred pain is pain or sensitivity in other teeth besides the one that was filled. There’s likely nothing wrong with your teeth. The filled tooth is simply passing along “pain signals” it’s receiving to other teeth. This pain should decrease on its own over one to two weeks.

Why or when would a dental filling need to be replaced?

There are three main reasons why dental fillings would need to be replaced.

  • Normal wear and tear: Constant pressure from chewing, grinding or clenching can cause dental fillings to wear away, chip or crack. Although you may not be able to tell that your filling is wearing down, your dentist can identify weaknesses in your restorations during a regular check-up.
  • Filling fails and decay develops: If the seal between the tooth enamel and the filling breaks down, food particles and decay-causing bacteria can work their way under the filling. You then run the risk of developing additional decay in that tooth. Decay that is left untreated can progress to infect the dental pulp and may cause an abscessed tooth.
  • Filling and/or decay is large: If the filling is large or the recurrent decay is extensive, there may not be enough tooth structure remaining to support a replacement filling. In these cases, your dentist may need to replace the filling with a crown.

What causes a new filling to simply fall out?

New fillings that fall out are probably the result of improper cavity preparation, contamination of the preparation prior to placement of the restoration or a fracture of the restoration from bite or chewing trauma. Older restorations will generally be lost due to decay or fracturing of the remaining tooth.

Does dental insurance cover the cost of composite fillings?

Most dental insurance plans cover the cost of the composites up to the price of the silver filling, then you would need to pay the difference. It’s always best to contact your dental care insurance provider before procedures if you have questions or concerns about cost.

Tell me the expected outcome?

Make An Appointment

Oral diseases affect more than 3 billion. Untreated dental disease causes tooth decay, the most common disease on earth. Filling and treatment of cavities helps prevent infections. Imagine that cavities are just an open space in your teeth. Bacteria causes decay that could damage some parts of teeth in an instant. The drilled cavity is likely the breeding ground for these viruses if there’s no treatment for them. When the bacterium spreads, it can damage teeth. Immediately prior to your appointment, you must set aside half an hour. Your hygienist may require X-rays.