The Ultimate Guide: "What Are Fillings?" and Why They Matter in Dental Care

April 03, 2024


Ever found yourself wondering, "Just what are fillings anyway?" You're not alone. Dental fillings are a hot topic in oral care. Let's dive deep and uncover the mysteries behind fillings for teeth.

What Are Fillings?

There you go, the million-dollar question! Dental fillings are materials used to fill cavities or holes in teeth caused by decay. This restores the tooth to its original form and prevents further damage. It's a bit like patching up a hole in your favorite pair of jeans, but for your teeth.

Types of Dental Fillings

Amalgam Fillings

Often termed as 'silver fillings', these are made from a blend of metals including silver, tin, and mercury. They've been around for over a century and are tried-and-true.

  • Pros: Durable and budget-friendly.
  • Cons: Dark color doesn't blend with natural teeth.

Composite Fillings

Fashioned from a resin and plastic mixture, these fillings match the color of natural teeth.

  • Pros: Cosmetically appealing.
  • Cons: Might wear out sooner than amalgam fillings.

Ceramic Fillings

Made primarily from porcelain, these are both durable and aesthetic.

  • Pros: Resistant to staining compared to composite fillings.
  • Cons: Can be as expensive as a gold crown!

Gold Fillings

Less common nowadays, but some folks still swear by them.

  • Pros: Highly durable.
  • Cons: High cost and visible gold color.

The Process of Getting a Filling

  1. Detection: Your dentist spots a cavity. "Bingo!" they might exclaim (though hopefully in a more professional manner).
  2. Anesthesia: To keep things comfy, a local anesthetic numbs the area.
  3. Removal: The decayed part of the tooth is delicately removed.
  4. Cleaning: The area is cleaned of bacteria and debris.
  5. Filling: The cavity is filled with your chosen material.
  6. Polishing: The filling is smoothed and polished, making it feel just like the rest of your tooth.

Caring for Teeth with Fillings

You've got your shiny new filling, now what? Simple day-to-day care can make a world of difference.

  • Daily brushing & flossing: Like your mama always said, don't forget to brush and floss!
  • Regular dentist visits: A dentist can spot issues before they become big problems.
  • Avoid excessive pressure: Don't use your teeth as tools or chew on hard objects.

Fillings and Sensitivity

"Ouch!" Ever felt a sharp twinge after getting a filling? It's not uncommon.

Why the Sensitivity?

The filled tooth might react to temperature changes, especially cold. The good news? This sensitivity usually fades over time.

Combatting Sensitivity

  • Use toothpaste for sensitive teeth.
  • Avoid very hot or cold foods for a few days.
  • If sensitivity persists, see your dentist.

FAQs on Fillings

  • How long do fillings last?
    Typically, amalgam fillings last 10-15 years, and composite fillings around 5-10 years. But remember, longevity can vary based on care and individual factors.

  • Do fillings hurt?
    Not usually. The process involves anesthesia, so pain is minimal. There might be some discomfort afterward, but it's usually short-lived.

  • Are amalgam fillings safe?
    Despite the mercury content, studies from reliable sources like the FDA have deemed amalgam fillings safe for adults and children aged six and above.

  • Can I replace my amalgam fillings with white fillings?
    Absolutely! If you're craving a more natural look, talk to your dentist about replacement options.

  • Are fillings preventable?
    Many are! Regular dental check-ups, brushing, flossing, and a balanced diet can all play a role in cavity prevention.

  • How much do fillings cost?
    Costs vary based on filling type and location. Check with your dentist and insurance provider for specifics.


When it comes to dental health, knowledge is power. Fillings play a pivotal role in maintaining the health and functionality of our teeth. Whether you're sporting an amalgam or a ceramic filling, it's all about keeping that smile bright and healthy.