A filling is a way to restore a tooth damaged by decay back to its normal function and shape. When a dentist gives you a filling, he or she first removes the decayed tooth material, cleans the affected area, and then fills the cleaned out cavity with a filling material.

How do dentists fill a tooth?
Once the tooth is free from decay, the dentist will make sure the hole is a suitable size and shape to hold the filling material firmly in place. They will also make sure it’s completely clean and sterile, ready for the filling material to be applied. For an amalgam filling, the material is mixed immediately before application.

Types of tooth fillings – what are dental fillings made of?
There are various different tooth filling materials that dentists use according to the type of filling. For a front tooth filling, for instance, dentists typically use a tooth-coloured material. Many of these dental adhesives are the same as those used to attach crowns, bridges and veneers.

Each material has its own benefits and drawbacks in terms of:

  • Cost
  • Appearance
  • Strength
  • Durability
  • Ease of application

Amalgam (silver) fillings
Amalgam is more noticeable than composite. Silver-coloured amalgam fillings are made from a mixture of metals; around 50% mercury along with silver, tin and copper.

This is the cheapest tooth filling material available and is relatively easy to apply. It’s also the strongest, which is why it’s often used on stress-bearing surfaces. It’s a particularly good option for large or deep fillings.

Composite resin fillings
Composite tooth fillings are typically made from a mixture of acrylic resin and powdered glass. The composite material is shaded to match your natural tooth colour as closely as possible, making the filling hardly noticeable.