Coping With Cavities: The Most Common Types Of Dental Fillings

If you need to have a cavity filled, you will be able to choose from among several different options for filling materials. Although traditionally metal fillings were almost always used, nowadays there are quite a few different filling options available to dental patients.

Below is some information on a few of the most common filling types:

Tooth-colored composites

Composite resins can be used to fill cavities in either the front or back of the mouth. This type of filling is made from materials like glass, quartz, resin, or even plastic.


  • Appearance- The biggest advantage of tooth-colored composites is appearance. Fillings made from composites can very closely match the appearance of real teeth.


  • Strength- A lack of strength is probably the primary disadvantage of composites. Fillings made from this material will not last as long as amalgam or cast gold fillings.

Silver fillings/amalgams

Metal amalgams are the traditional teeth filling that was almost always used in the past. They are made from a combination of several different metals such as silver, copper, or tin. Amalgam fillings also usually contain mercury.


  • Cost- Metal amalgam fillings are one of the most inexpensive options.
  • Durability- Amalgam is very strong and can withstand a great deal of stress from chewing.


  • Appearance- Silver amalgam is very unnatural in appearance and will stand out from among natural teeth.
  • Mercury content- The mercury in amalgam fillings has caused this filling option to lose popularity in recent years. Many fear that mercury in this form in a patient's mouth can have adverse health effects over time. 

Cast gold

Cast gold is a high quality, strong material. Gold can be cemented in place, but it must be covered with porcelain crowns or some other type of crown to look natural. 


  • Durability- Gold is one of the strongest filling materials. It lasts longer than just about any other material.
  • Impermeability- Gold won't corrode over time and will resist tarnishing. It won't be permeated by bacteria or allow saliva to get into the filling.


  • Appearance- Gold fillings look very unnatural unless crowned.
  • Cost- This is one of the most expensive filling materials. 


Porcelain is the most commonly used material among ceramic tooth fillings. Porcelain is a glass-like material that is custom-formed to fit into the affected tooth. 


  • Appearance- Porcelain fillings can look like real teeth and blend in naturally with other teeth.
  • Durability- Porcelain is a tough material. Fillings made from porcelain last longer than those made from tooth-colored composite. 


  • Expense- Porcelain is among the most expensive of cavity filling options. A filling done with porcelain can cost just as much as cast gold fillings. 
  • Excessive strength- Sometimes, porcelain can be so strong that it wears down other teeth in the mouth that it comes into contact with. 

Talk to a dentist, like Dr. Casarella, to get more information about the filling that's right for you.