A dental filling is a way of restoring a tooth to healthy form, function and appearance. We will remove the decay, old or broken filling and clean the tooth thoroughly before rebuilding the tooth with new filling material. By restoring the tooth to healthy shape, or repairing broken filling or tooth, we prevent new decay from starting in this weak spot. Tooth fillings are made of a few different materials. Your dentist will advise and discuss with you the best material for your needs. Materials for fillings commonly include tooth coloured materials like Composite Resin, Glass Ionomer, or Porcelain. Alternatively, Amalgam Alloy and sometimes Gold may be used. These materials all have different properties, advantages and disadvantages.

Composite Resin

Composite resin is a tooth coloured material used primarily in front teeth. Patients and clinicians like this material because it is hard to tell the filling from the tooth once the restoration is complete. Composite resin sets when exposed to light of a certain wavelength, so the tooth can be used as normal once the filling is complete. Composite fillings may stain over time due to tea, coffee and red wine and they are not as strong as an amalgam restoration. Most composite restorations will last about 5-7 years.

Amalgam Alloy (silver) filling

Amalgam alloy is a strong material for restoring teeth. It is terrific for large restorations in back teeth and is capable of lasting a long time. Amalgam has been used to restore teeth for many decades with great success. Amalgam fillings typically last around 10+ years. Due to their silver colour however, amalgam fillings are not suitable for front teeth. Amalgam fillings do not set immediately, avoiding eating for a couple of hours, then eating on the other side of your mouth for 24 hours is recommended following a filling.

Gold fillings (inlay/onlay)

Gold is not pressed into a tooth, it is manufactured into the correct shape in the laboratory. It is a more costly option, but is a very tooth and gum friendly material which is well tolerated by patients. Gold is literally, the “gold standard” in dental care. Gold restorations typically last for 20+ years. This type of restoration is performed over a couple of visits, the cavity is prepared, then a couple of weeks later the restoration is cemented into place.

Porcelain / Zirconia fillings (inlay/onlay)

Porcelain can also be milled into shape to fill a tooth. Its main advantage is in its exact colour match to your natural teeth. They are more resistant to staining and are stronger than a composite filling, particularly in the back teeth. They can be used when a larger restoration is required, but strength and durability are also important. These restorations are also a more expensive option, but will last a long time. These restorations typically last 10+ years.

Our dentists will use instrumentation and/or x-rays to assess your teeth during your examination, or emergency appointment. The fillings will be assessed for defects or new decay and our dentist will then discuss the issue, the recommended treatment and materials for you. We welcome discussion about material choice and assessment of your teeth for the best treatment outcomes.

If you think you might need a tooth filling, please call Adelaide City Dental Care on (08) 8212 3880.

Does it hurt to get teeth pulled?
To wriggle teeth out if they have too much disease usually doesn’t hurt as local anaesthetic is used. You may be offered twilight sedation or a general anaesthetic depending on the difficulty of the procedure.
Why do I still have bad breath after getting teeth fixed and cleaned?
Bad breath has a number of causes. Sometimes it is from diseased teeth and gums and fixing these and flossing well will assist but sometimes it is from your gut. If it is coming from your gut then your GP will assist with this.
Does getting a filling hurt?
Fillings are almost always completed under a local anaesthetic and as such rarely hurt. If it does then extra local anaesthetic can be used.
Can cavities get larger in just a year?
Yes cavities in teeth do not get any smaller with time especially as they trap food and the bacteria multiple in the area causing further disease in the tooth.
How long after replacing a filling can I eat?
It depends on the type of filling and your dentist will let you know the care of the new filling at your appointment.
How long after a filling can I brush my teeth?
It depends on the type of filling and your dentist will let you know the care of the new filling at your appointment. Generally though before bedtime will be fine.
Can a filling come out?
Yes fillings can come out if they are older, have disease under them or there is breakage of surrounding tooth.
How long should fillings last?
It depends on the type of filling used and your dentist will discuss that with you at the time.
Are white fillings better than silver?
White fillings and silver fillings work well in different situations. Amalgam is a great product that has stood the test of time and is still used today. There were considerations that mercury was leaching out of these older fillings but the scientific evidence is that this doesn’t happen in any significant amount. There were also considerations that amalgam cracked teeth. This again was found to be unfounded as any disruption to the tooth structure weakens it and can create cracks regardless of the filling in the middle. An amalgam with no fracture lines or chips or decay is in our opinion, perfectly fine to leave as is. Removing a filling takes more tooth structure as well. The alternatives to amalgam are tooth coloured products like resin or ceramic products.
Resin is much more technique sensitive, much trickier to close gaps in back teeth and must stay dry while it is being placed incrementally. The resin products are getting stronger but they are a bit more brittle and do not last quite as long as amalgam. They can also de-bond from time to time. The ceramic options are usually two stage procedures requiring impressions and more time to do. The ceramic solutions are very strong, very pretty but much more expensive. The ceramic is then cemented in place. Dr Stone keeps asking the chemical engineering students for a white amalgam!
Can I get my silver fillings replaced with white ones?
You could but it is not recommended to replace fillings that are stable and not diseased with a new filling. Every time a filling is replaced more tooth structure is removed.