What Materials Are Used to Make Fillings, And When Are They Necessary?

Dental fillings are essential for repairing damaged teeth caused by tooth decay or fractures. They help restore missing tooth structures’ function, integrity, and morphology. With various types of materials available, selecting the appropriate filling material depends on the location and severity of the decay, your Parramatta dentist’s recommendation, and your preference.

This article will discuss the different filling materials and the situations where they are most suitable.

Common Dental Filling Materials

  1. Amalgam

Amalgam fillings (or silver fillings) are a product of a mixture of silver, tin, copper, and mercury. Their primary distinguishing attribute is their durability. This characteristic, therefore, renders them most suitable for large cavities in the back teeth (molars), where chewing forces are the greatest.


  • Affordable and cost-effective
  • Long-lasting and durable (10-15 years)
  • Resistant to wear and fracture under heavy chewing loads


  • It may cause an allergic reaction in some patients
  • Metallic appearance might be unappealing for visible teeth
  • Expansion and contraction may cause tooth fractures over time
  1. Composite Resin

Composite resin fillings are made from a combination of plastic materials and fine glass particles, designed to mimic the natural appearance of your teeth. They are bonded to the tooth structure, providing additional support and preventing further decay by sealing out bacteria.


  • They are aesthetically pleasing, as the dentist can match them to the colour of your natural teeth.
  • Conservative tooth preparation preserves more natural tooth structure
  • It can be used for a variety of dental restorations, including small to moderate cavities


  • More expensive than amalgam fillings
  • Less durable compared to amalgam fillings (5-10 years)
  • They may require a longer dental appointment as they take more time to apply
  1. Porcelain or Ceramic

Porcelain or ceramic fillings, often called inlays or onlays, are custom-made to fit the affected area. These highly aesthetic restorations match the natural colour of your teeth and are resistant to staining.


  • Aesthetically pleasing, the colour can be matched to your natural teeth
  • More durable than composite resin fillings (up to 15 years)
  • Resistant to staining, unlike composite resin


  • More expensive than both amalgam and composite resin fillings
  • Labor-intensive, often requiring at least two dental visits
  • It can be more brittle than other materials, causing fractures under heavy biting force
  1. Glass Ionomer

Glass ionomer fillings are made from a combination of acrylic and glass powders that form a biocompatible material. They are often used in children and adults with a high risk for tooth decay, as they slowly release fluoride, which helps prevent further deterioration.


  • Fluoride release can help prevent further tooth decay
  • It can be used in high-moisture areas and for non-load-bearing restorations
  • It can be used as a temporary filling material


  • It is the weakest of the dental materials and does not withstand heavy chewing loads
  • It is less durable, with a lifespan of only about five years
  • Discolors over time, making them less visually appealing than other materials

When are Dental Fillings Necessary?

You might require dental fillings primarily to treat tooth decay, also known as cavities. Other reasons for dental fillings include:

  • Repairing cracked or broken teeth
  • Restoring worn-down teeth due to tooth grinding, nail-biting, or other habits
  • Addressing tooth sensitivity caused by enamel loss
  • Replacing old or damaged fillings


Dental fillings are crucial for repairing damaged teeth and preventing further decay. Understanding the benefits and drawbacks of each material type can assist with making the right decision regarding your oral health needs. It is also essential to visit the dentist routinely for checkups and cleanings where your dentist can identify dental problems and recommend the appropriate treatment.

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