Different Types of Dental Fillings 

Based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, untreated tooth decay affects more than 30% of individuals aged 20 to 44. If you have cavities, you are not alone. The NE Philadelphia dental office professionals are skilled and experienced and can help save your teeth. A dental filling is commonly used to treat mild to severe decay. 

What are dental fillings? 

Dental fillings are single or mixed metals, polymers, glass, or other materials used to restore or repair teeth. One of the most common applications for fillings is to “fill” a decayed part of a tooth that your dentist has removed – “a cavity.” Fillings can also be used to restore fractured or broken teeth and teeth worn down by abuse (such as tooth-grinding or nail-biting). 

What are dental fillings made of? 

Dental filling materials include the following:

  • Porcelain 
  • Gold 
  • Amalgam of silver (mercury combined with silver, zinc, tin, and copper) 
  • Composite resin fillings (tooth-colored plastic and glass materials) 

The type of filling that best meets your needs is determined by the location and extent of the decay, the cost of filling material, your insurance coverage, and your dentist’s suggestion.

Benefits and drawbacks of different materials 

The following are the benefits and drawbacks of various dental filling materials:


  • Gold 

Gold is said to have a beautiful look and lasts at least 10 to 15 years.

  • Silver amalgams 

Silver amalgams last at least ten to fifteen years and are less costly than composite fillings.

  • Tooth-colored composite fillings 

Coloring may be precisely matched to the color of natural teeth, binds to existing teeth for further stability, is commonly used for repairs beyond cavity fillings, and in certain situations, involves less tooth removal than amalgams.

  • Porcelain/ceramics 

These last more than 15 years and are more stain resistant than composite resin material.

  • Glass ionomer 

Typically used for fillings below the gum line, it releases fluoride, which can help guard against future tooth decay.


  • Gold 

More pricey than other materials and may need more than one office visit.

  • Silver 

It may necessitate the removal of more teeth to make room for the filling, imparts a grey tint to the surrounding dental structure, increases the risk of tooth fractures and cracks due to a greater degree of contraction and expansion, and has an allergic potential in certain people.

  • Tooth-colored composite fillings 

These can last at least five years (compared to 10 to 15 years for other materials), may chip off tooth depending on location, can cost up to twice as much as amalgams, takes longer to put, and/or requires extra appointments.

  • Ceramics 
  • Glass ionomer 

It is more prone to wear and fracture, is weaker than composite resin, lasts five years or less, and costs the same as composite fillings.