Fillings are used to replace tooth tissue that has been lost because of decay, trauma or wear. There are lots of different types of fillings nowadays and they are all useful in different situations. Sometimes when different materials could be used to fill a hole, your dentist will give you the option to choose what type of filling material you would like.
The main types of fillings are:
This is made of a mixture of silver, tin, zinc, copper and mercury. It is usually used for fillings in back teeth, especially in areas that are hard for the dentist to keep dry. It is strong and long lasting, but it does not glue to your teeth and is not tooth coloured. It is quicker to place than composite fillings and so is usually cheaper.
This is a mixture of plastic and glass particles. It can be set hard with a bright blue light. It is used for fillings that are small and large, but because it is tooth coloured it is especially useful for fillings that can be seen easily. It glues to your tooth and so does not require healthy tooth to be removed to hold it in place. It is more difficult to place and needs to be kept dry when it is being put into the mouth. This means that it is usually more expensive than amalgam fillings.
Made of porcelain, these fillings are made by a laboratory technician outside of the mouth. This means that they are made over two appointments. They are useful for very large fillings and are tooth coloured. They are more resistant to staining than other fillings and look very life-like. They have a long life time but can occasionally break as they are more brittle than composites and gold. As they are made by a highly skilled laboratory technician, they are more expensive than directly placed fillings.
Gold fillings are probably the longest lasting fillings and are useful for restoring large holes. They are not tooth coloured and need two appointments to fit. However, they are very hard wearing and not liable to fracture or break. They are the most expensive filling at the moment because of the price of gold.