There are different types of dental fillings such as tooth colored restorations (composites) or silver restorations (amalgams). Both fillings have their strengths and limitations and our choice of material for each patient depends on a variety of factors.

Composite Fillings

Made of tooth colored materials, composites restore the natural beauty of teeth. They can be matched very closely to your natural tooth color and are indistinguishable from non-restored teeth. Composite fillings are ideal for front teeth but used frequently for the back teeth as well.

Strengths: Bonds to tooth structure; more conservative since less tooth structure has to be removed; best esthetics

Limitations: Does not do well with moisture, such as fillings that go below gum tissue; costs more than amalgams; need to place in increments so it can take more time to place

Amalgam Fillings

Amalgam is a silver colored alloy made up of mercury, silver, tin and copper. Because of the poor esthetics they are used only for the back teeth. These restorations are known for their strength and durability.

Strengths: Long lasting; less sensitive to moisture; costs less

Limitations: More tooth structure needs to be removed to help retain amalgams since they cannot bond to teeth; poor esthetics; may swell with time causing fracture lines in tooth structure; may corrode and leak over time

Before and After Photos of Composites

Fillings are an excellent way to repair a damaged tooth back to its’ normal shape, function and look.

Below is an example of a patient that had large cavities on her front teeth. The decay was removed and the teeth filled with composites, giving her a healthy smile again in one appointment.

A cavity is basically a hole in a tooth caused by decay. There’s a variety of colors that change the appearance with a cavity from white spots to orange and yellow to even black spots. Below are cavities with white areas of demineralization that were filled with composites.

Composites are a great cosmetic restoration to restore small imperfections in teeth. Esthetic bonding uses composites to fix small gaps, discolorations, stains, and chipped teeth. Photos below show spaces from misshaped teeth corrected with esthetic bonding in one visit without any local anesthesia.

What to expect with a filling

Dr. Brian will thoroughly inspect your teeth. He will look for any cavities, cracks or defective restorations that need to be taken care of before the problem progresses. Radiographs are necessary to check for decay in places that cannot be seen visually.

We believe in painless and conservative dentistry. Dr. Brian will gently get you numb and give you plenty of time for the anesthesia to kick in. He will test the tooth to make sure you do not feel anything at all and that you are comfortable for the entire procedure. He will remove the decay, clean up the tooth, and place the restoration. Dr. Brian can discuss with you which type of filling is best for you. Typically he will place composites because these fillings bond to the tooth and are more conservative.

The local anesthetic may last for a few hours after the procedure, so be careful not to drool over yourself or bite your cheek. Once the numbness wears off, you can eat on that side again. Some sensitivity may occur since we just worked on the tooth. If the sensitivity is not going away after a few days, please call our office.

Your dental filling should last you many years but not forever. Restorations fail due to wear and tear and may need to be replaced from time to time. Decay can also occur around these fillings which is why we recommend routine cleanings, exams, radiographs and good oral hygiene at home to help these restorations last.

Depending on the extent and location of the problem sometimes a crown is recommended instead of a filling.