What is a Dental Filling?

A dental filling is a way to repair a tooth that has become damaged due to decay. A filling will restore your tooth back to its original shape. If your dentist administers a filling, then he or she will extract the material in the tooth that has decayed. Next, the affected area will be cleaned, and then the dentist will fill the area of the tooth that was cleaned out will a filling material.

A filling will stop further decay because the area where bacteria entered will be closed. There are different materials a dentist can use for fillings, which include:

  • Porcelain
  • Gold
  • Composite resin that will match the color of your tooth
  • Amalgam (mercury, silver, tin, copper, zinc).

What Type of Filling Material is Best?

Every indiviudal is different, so a dentist will choose the proper material based how extensive the repair needs to be, if you have allergies to any materials that are used for fillings, where the area is in your mouth, and the cost of the material.


A gold filling will be made in a lab. This material is well accepted by gum tissue and can remain intact for more than 20 years, which is why it is a popular choice among dentists. However, gold is the most expensive material, and you will probably need several visits to complete the filling.


Amalgam material that is silver is very durable and not as expensive as gold. However, this material is dark so it will be easily visible. For this reason, silver is not typically used on front teeth.

Composite Resins

Composite resins are designed to match the color of your teeth, so it is a better option if you need to have front teeth filled. However, composite resins may not be a suitable choice if you have large fillings because it can chip. It is also important to remember that composite resins can be easily stained from tea, coffee, or tobacco. This material will usually last 3 to 10 years, so it does not last as long as other filling materials.


Porcelain fillings are made to order and produced in a laboratory. This material is bonded to the tooth and will match the color of your tooth. Porcelain fillings are also stain resistant. Usually porcelain restorations will cover the majority of the tooth and is more expensive than composite resin. The cost porcelain material is similar to gold.

What is the Procedure for a Filling?

If you are in need of a filling, it may be helpful if you know what to expect before the procedure. Here is the typical procedure for having a filling:

Local Anesthesia

Before the dentist begins to work on your tooth, you will probably be given a local anesthesia, which will effectively numb the area of the affected tooth.

Removal of Tooth Decay

After the area is numb, the dentist will use a drill to penetrate the enamel and take out any decay. When the dentist is finished removing the decay, he or she will shape the area to prepare it to be filled.


If the filling is bonded, the dentist will use an acid gel to etch the tooth before placing the material into the open space.

Application of Resin

With certain fillings, the dentist will apply the resin and use a bright light to harden the material, which will make it strong.


When the filling has been set, the dentist will polish the tooth.

After your filling, the anesthesia will wear off in 1 to 3 hours. When the anesthesia has worn off, your tooth may be sensitive to hot or cold food and beverages, which is normal. This will diminish in a few days. If you had silver fillings, then you should avoid chewing hard foods with the treated tooth for 24 hours. With composite fillings, you can chew when the anesthesia has worn of because the material is set during the procedure.

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