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5 Types Of Dental Fillings

Despite advances in dental care and dental hygiene solutions, cavities remain a problem for many Canadians.. Cavities are formed by severe plaque buildup on the teeth caused by inadequate dental hygiene, bacteria buildup in the mouth, and sugary foods. Cavities cause little holes to form in the decaying tooth and can lead to severe toothaches, infections, and tooth loss. 

Be proactive about your dental health and visit your dentist twice a year for regular cleanings and early cavity detection. If your dentist detects a cavity, you may have to receive a dental filling to prevent more serious oral health problems from occurring. 

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What Are Dental Fillings?

The procedure for a dental filling is used to repair minor fractures or decay in the teeth, as a form of restorative dental treatment. Many patients experiencing tooth decay will have increased tooth sensitivity from broken-down enamel. A dental filling significantly improves the function of the tooth and protects it from further damage. They also help even out the surface of the tooth, improving the jaw’s biting and chewing functions.

At Marlborough Dental Centre, our team of NE Calgary dentists offers effective restorative dental filling procedures to help enhance the look and function of your teeth. Our goal is to provide customized dental solutions to bring out your best smile and improve your overall health and wellness.

5 Types Of Dental Fillings

All 5 dental fillings can repair tooth decay. However, some materials are best suited for different situations, depending on how severe the condition of your tooth is. Talk to your dentist about which dental filling material is best suited for you.

Gold Fillings
With proper care, gold fillings can last up to 20 years. They are extremely durable and do not oxidize in the mouth. Unlike other dental fillings, gold fillings do not contract and expand due to the ingestion of hot and cold food over time. Their integrity means that you do not need to worry about gaps opening between the tooth and the filling material, which could damage the tooth. 

However, gold fillings are extremely expensive and require multiple visits to the dentist to install. Some patients do not like the aesthetic of gold fillings and prefer materials that resemble their natural teeth.

Silver Amalgam Filling
Silver amalgam fillings are made of a mixture of liquid (elemental) mercury, silver, tin, and copper. These fillings have been used by dentists for over a century and are among the most common. They have similar durability to gold fillings, lasting anywhere from 10 to 15 years, and are much more affordable. 

However, silver amalgam fillings are more likely to expand and contract when exposed to cold or hot environments, causing cracks in the tooth. Additionally, these fillings are not aesthetically pleasing and more noticeable than other filling material options. There is also concern regarding the use of toxic mercury in the filling, as it can cause severe health problems.

Composite Filling
Composite fillings, also known as “tooth-colored” fillings, are made of ceramic and plastic compounds. This filling material is more expensive than traditional silver amalgam fillings but offers the aesthetic appeal of a natural tooth. 

The downsides are that these fillings only last for 5-7 years, are less durable, and require more frequent replacements. 

Ceramic Filling
Ceramic fillings are often made from porcelain materials and are less likely to stain over time compared to composite fillings. These fillings also mimic the look of your natural tooth and are far more durable than composite fillings, lasting up to 15 years. 

However, ceramic fillings are a bit more expensive than composite and amalgam fillings.

Glass Ionomer Filling
Also known as acrylic fillings, the short-lasting (less than 5 years) glass ionomer fillings are a good choice for children whose teeth are still changing.
Glass ionomer is essentially a flexible cement paste that temporarily protects the exposed enamel and dentin from tooth decay. The cement paste is made of silicate-glass powder that bonds directly to the damaged tooth's surface. This powder contains fluoride, which is slowly released over time in the mouth. Fluoride is great for preventing tooth decay as well as increasing the overall health of your mouth.

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Anyone at any point in their life can get a cavity. By visiting your dentist for regular cleanings, practicing good oral hygiene at home, and paying attention to any sensitivity signs in your mouth, you will be less likely to develop a cavity (and therefore the need for a dental filling). If you do require a filling, talk to your dentist about which options they offer as well as which material you would most benefit from.
Our Calgary dental clinic is now open, and our team of family dentists and dental hygienists are excited to be serving you once again. Whatever your dental concerns, we are ready to provide you with quality and safe dental care.


Q: How long does a dental filling procedure take?
A: Depending on the filling material being used, the procedure can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. Most fillings take at least 24 hours to fully set before they are ready to withstand chewing hard foods.

Q: Does getting a dental filling hurt?
A: Your dentist will numb the area of the tooth with a local anesthetic so you do not feel anything during the procedure. You may feel slight discomfort from the sensation of your dentist performing the procedure and may experience tooth sensitivity for a short period of time afterward. 

Q: What happens if I have a cavity but do not want to get a dental filling?
A: If you do not receive a dental filling right away once your dentist detects a cavity in your mouth, the bacteria may cause further damage to the enamel and dentin in your tooth. This may lead to tooth loss, infection, and even bone loss in the jaw. 

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