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Dental Filling Options

When it comes to having a cavity filled, it’s important to know that you have the right to decide, after consultation with your dentist, what treatments and materials are used for your dental care. Your dentist considers materials to use on an individualized basis, taking into account the size and location of your cavity. Cosmetic considerations, how long the filling could last, insurance coverage and out of pocket costs are some other factors you might want to consider. The ADA encourages you to talk with your dentist so that together you may choose the material that’s right for you.

Here are some common dental filling options:

  • Composite resins, or tooth-colored fillings, are a mixture of glass or quartz filler that provide good durability and resistance to fracture in small- to mid-size fillings that need to withstand moderate pressure from chewing. They can be used on either front or back teeth. 
  • Dental amalgam, sometimes described as "silver-colored" fillings, is made from a combination of metals that include mercury, silver, tin, and copper. Dental amalgam has been used for generations by dentists. Amalgam is very durable and more affordable than tooth-colored or gold fillings; however tooth-colored materials are more natural looking. 
  • Gold fillings, also called inlays or onlays, are composed of an alloy of gold, copper and other metals. Gold has been used in dentistry for more than 1,000 years due to its durability; however, gold is more costly than amalgam and not natural looking like tooth-colored fillings.