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What is Tooth Filling ?

Tooth filling is a method to restore decayed tooth to its normal function and shape. All the decayed tooth part is removed , cleaned  and then finally filled with a tooth filling material. Removing the decayed tooth and filling it with filling material helps to prevent further decay and thus prevents food from entering the tooth.

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Tooth filling – what to expect

Your dentist will take the X Ray of your tooth. By looking at the X Ray, your dentist will decide whether tooth filling can be done or not(it tooth decay is close to pulp chamber/ nerves tooth filling can not be done) .

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Your dentist will drill out(remove) the decayed tooth portion with a rotary machine and dental burs. After that tooth filling material is added on the drilled out(hollowed out) portion to recreate normal form, function and shape of the tooth.

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Which tooth filling material is best for me ?

Depending upon

  • The location of the cavity
  • Extent of repair
  • Whether you have allergies to certain material or not
  • And depending on your budget

Your dentist will guide you which type of tooth filling material will be the best for you.

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Types of tooth filling material


Dental gold fillings are  composed of an alloy(mix) of gold, copper and other metals. It is done in the form of Inlays and Onlays.

Advantages of gold filling

  1. gold fillings lasts for more than 20 years.
  2. They do not corrode
  3. Moreover They have high strength and can withstand chewing forces.
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Disadvantages of gold filling

  1. Poor aesthetics – gold fillings are not tooth coloured filling material and hence does not look good.
  2. Galvanic shock – gold fillings if placed immediately next to amalgam filling can cause a sharp pain due to interaction between metal and saliva causing electric current to occur. However its rare.
  3. Cost – gold fillings are quite expensive.
  4. And requires multiple sittings.
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2. Amalgam filling

Dental amalgam is an alloy(mix) made by mixing mercury with silver tin alloy with varying amount of copper and zinc. Although pure mercury is toxic , mercury found in dental amalgam filling is locked inside the filling when the filling hardens and therefore it is not harmful. Many studies has shown that dental amalgam is safe.

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Advantages of amalgam filling

  1. Amalgam fillings lasts for 10-15 years .
  2. They have high strength and are ideal for filling cavities of the back teeth.
  3. Easy to use
  4. Does not wear easily
  5. Relatively less costly
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Disadvantages of amalgam filling

  1. Amalgam fillings are not tooth colored and hence does not look good
  2. Requires more tooth structure to be removed for proper retention
  3. Amalgam fillings create a grayish hue on the surrounding tooth structure.
  4. 1% people are allergic to mercury present in the amalgam.
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3. Glass ionomer filling

GIC is based on the reaction between silicate glass powder and polyalkenoic acid.

Advantages of Glass ionomer filling

  1. It is tooth coloured
  2. Bonds easily with the tooth
  3. Releases fluoride over time which helps prevent tooth decay under and around the filling
  4. And it is easy and quick

Disadvantages of Glass ionomer filling

  1. Not recommended for load bearing areas as they may wear out(lessen) easily.
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4. Composite filling

Composite filling material is made up of resin based matrix which contains modified methacrylate. Silica and glass are added to reduce polymerization shrinkage.

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Advantages of composite filling

  1. Available in different colors so and hence shade is closely matched to the color of the tooth.
  2. Can be used in front teeth or on visible part of teeth.
  3. Can be used to repair chipped or broken or worn out teeth
  4. Less tooth is reduced for composite filling.
  5. Has high strength and therefore it is resistant to fracture or does not break easily
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Disadvantages of composite filling

  1. Not an ideal material for large fillings because they may chip and wear over time.
  2. Worn out sooner than amalgam filling
  3. Requires more time to fill the tooth
  4. Can be stained from tea, coffee or tobacco.
  5. Shrinks when they harden.
  6. And costly as compared to amalgam filling
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5. Porcelain filling

They are produced in labs and then bonded to the tooth. And are present as inlay and onlay.

Advantages of porcelain filling

  1. Can be matched to the colour of your teeth
  2. Does not stain
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Disadvantages of porcelain filling

  1. First of all it is very costly
  2. Abrasive
  3. And requires multiple sittings
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How do I know if I need a tooth filling

First of all look for the dark stains on the teeth.

If you are having a problem of food lodgement in your teeth then there are chances of tooth decay.

Your dentist can check and tell whether you have a cavity that needs to be filled or not during your general dental check up.

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How to take care of teeth with filling

There are following ways to take care of your tooth filling

  • First of all Maintain a good oral hygiene and Brush twice daily
  • Use dental floss and mouthwash regularly
  • Limit intake of sugar
  • Be careful when eating hard food
  • Visit your dentist regularly
  • If your tooth is paining or if you feel sharp edge or if you notice a crack or break on the filling then visit your dentist.
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How do you know if your tooth filling is too high

After tooth filling if the tooth feels sensitivity only on biting then you need to go and visit your dentist. Because It is a sign that your tooth filling is too high.

Or if you feel that equal pressure is not there on both the sides then chances are your tooth filling is high.

Your dentist will check your bite again and will reduce the high point.

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When to replace a tooth filling

Tooth filling usually lasts for years but they can wear over time due to chewing hence they need to be replaced with time. If you grind or clench your teeth you need to get it redone faster.

If you notice a crack or worn out area on your filling then you need to visit your dentist soon because it is a sign that tooth needs a new filling. Chewing  with damaged or broken tooth filling can result in either tooth to crack or break and hence will require extra repair.

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Problems associated with tooth filling

  • Sensitivity – some people feel sensitivity in their tooth for a week after filling. This usually resolves on its own and is normal.
  • Infection – at times filling may pull away from the tooth creating a small gap or space. This space is the breeding ground for oral bacteria that causes further tooth decay.
  • Damage – if the tooth filling breaks or cracks due to biting something hard or due to hit on the mouth while playing or due to some other reasons, visit your dentist and get it replaced as soon as you notice.

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Are tooth fillings painful ?

  • People are usually scared about dental treatment as they think it will hurt. Tooth fillings are not placed in areas of tooth too close to nerves in a vital(live) teeth, so you need not to be afraid of the procedure and it is not painful. If your tooth decay is close to the nerves then your dentist will numb that area and you will not feel any pain.
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