What Type Of Dental Filling Is Right For You?

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When you find out you need a filling, you likely won't be thrilled at the thought of returning to the dentist to have a cavity repaired, but ignoring a tooth with decay could cause you to lose it. Amalgam and resin composite are the two types of dental filling materials you can have your cavity filled with, and the right type for you will depend on a number of factors including the tooth that needs to be filled, your budget and the size of the cavity. Read on to learn when each of these filling materials is suitable.


Amalgam is a durable material that's made with copper, silver, tin and mercury. It moulds easily into cavity spaces, so fillings are quick to complete with amalgam, which makes it the least expensive option. Its strength makes it the ideal choice for molars, which have to withstand a lot of pressure when you chew. Amalgam fillings can last for decades when you practice good oral hygiene, but some patients worry about feeling self-conscious when they laugh, as they don't want these silver-coloured fillings to be on show.

There has also been some concern about amalgam fillings containing mercury, but these fillings use a type of mercury, elemental metallic mercury, that is considered safe. It's worth doing your own research into this type of mercury if you have concerns about the safety of amalgam fillings.

Resin Composite

Resin composite fillings tend to be considered more aesthetically pleasing, as they are tooth-coloured and difficult to detect when you laugh or smile. They contain no metal and are made using compounds of plastic and ceramic. This means they are generally not as strong as amalgam fillings and may not last as long.

So, although resin composite can be used to fill cavities in molars, dentists tend to recommend this material is preferable for cavities on other teeth that do not come under the same pressure that molars do. Resin composite is also a bit more difficult to work with, so this type of filling is the more expensive option.

Regardless of the type of filling you choose, recovery will take a couple of hours and you can eat and drink as soon as the local anaesthetic wears off. Your tooth will be sealed and this prevents bacteria from causing an infection or further decay, both of which can cause you to lose the tooth. If you're unsure of the best type of filling material for your tooth, discuss the pros and cons with your dentist.