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Dental Fillings - Maria Lalousi

27 Oct



What is a Filling?

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.

By closing off spaces where bacteria can enter, a filling also helps prevent further decay. Materials used for fillings include gold, porcelain, a composite resin (tooth-coloured fillings), and an amalgam (an alloy of mercury, silver, copper, tin and sometimes zinc).

Why You Need a Filling

  1. Cavities

Cavities remain the number one reason that dentists give patients fillings.  Even so, not all cavities need fillings.  Sometimes very small cavities can be “watched.”  When this happens, the dentist monitors the cavity and if it appears to be repairing itself, you won’t need to get a filling.


  1. Tooth Fracture

Many times, fractured teeth can be repaired with white composite filling material.

  1. A Slow Loss of Tooth Structure

When you fracture your tooth, you lose a lot of tooth structure quickly.  There are other ways that you can lose tooth structure more slowly, such as abrasion, abfraction, erosion, and attrition.

The best way to prevent this type of tooth loss is by avoiding acidic drinks and acidic candy, not grinding your teeth, and not using your teeth as tools.

  1. Tooth Discoloration

Another reason that dentists do fillings is to cover up discoloured teeth.  Teeth can be discoloured for a variety of reasons, such as staining from antibiotics and dental fluorosis.

  1. Replacing Old Fillings

Old fillings may need to be replaced.  Over time, white fillings can discolour and the bond between the filling and the tooth can break down.  Silver fillings may also fracture after many years of service.

10 Signs You May Need a Tooth Filling

While your skilled dentist is the only person who can tell if you need a tooth filling for sure, there are some common signs and symptoms that can alert you of a cavity that may require a dental filling. If you experience any of the following, contact your dentist for an exam:

  1. You experience tooth sensitivity when a certain tooth is exposed to hot or cold temperatures or sweet, sticky and sour foods.
  2. You feel pain in your tooth. This can be throbbing or sharp.
  3. You get tooth pain when you bite down on or chew your food.
  4. You can see a hole or dark spot on your tooth. You may even be able to feel the hole with your tongue.
  5. When you floss, the string tears each time you floss a particular tooth.
  6. When you eat, food always seems to get stuck on or between certain teeth.
  7. Your tooth feels rough.
  8. You notice that an existing tooth filling is cracked or broken. In this case, your dentist may want to replace the filling with a new one or recommend a different procedure.
  9. You’ve lost a tooth filling. This may call for a replacement tooth filling.
  10. Your tooth is chipped or fractured.


Which Type of Filling is best?

No one type of filling is best for everyone. What’s right for you will be determined by the extent of the repair, whether you have allergies to certain materials, where in your mouth the filling is needed, and the cost. Considerations for different materials include:

  • Gold fillings are made to order in a laboratory and then cemented into place. Gold inlays are well tolerated by gum tissues, and may last more than 20 years. For these reasons, many authorities consider gold the best filling material. However, it is often the most expensive choice and requires multiple visits.
  • Amalgam (silver) fillings are resistant to wear and relatively inexpensive. However, due to their dark colour, they are more noticeable than porcelain or composite restorations and are not usually used in very visible areas, such as front teeth.
  • Composite (white fillings) resins are matched to be the same colour as your teeth and therefore used where a natural appearance is desired. The ingredients are mixed and placed directly into the cavity, where they harden. Composites may not be the ideal material for large fillings as they may chip or wear over time. They can also become stained from coffee, tea or tobacco and do not last as long as other types of fillings generally from three to 10 years.
  • Porcelain fillings are called inlays or onlays and are produced to order in a lab and then bonded to the tooth. They can be matched to the colour of the tooth and resist staining. A porcelain restoration generally covers most of the tooth. Their cost is similar to gold.
  • Inlays / onlays can be made by composite (resin) material in the lab.

If decay or a fracture has damaged a large portion of the tooth, a crown, or cap, may be recommended. Decay that has reached the nerve may be treated in two ways: through root canal therapy (in which nerve damaged nerve is removed) or through a procedure called pulp capping (which attempts to keep the nerve alive).

What Happens When you get a Filling?

If your dentist decides to fill a cavity, he or she will first remove the decay and clean the affected area. The cleaned-out cavity will then be filled with any of the variety of materials described above.


How Do I Know if I Need a Filling?

Only your dentist can detect whether you have a cavity that needs to be filled. During a check-up, your dentist will use a small mirror to examine the surfaces of each tooth.

Anything that looks abnormal will then be closely checked with special instruments. Your dentist may also X-ray your entire mouth or a section of it. The type of treatment your dentist chooses will depend on the extent of damage caused by decay.




White fillings (Composite fillings) are becoming more and more popular for health (containing no mercury) as well as cosmetic reasons. White filling or dental composite as the name indicates, typically consists of a resin-based matrix and inorganic filler such silica, glasses and glass ceramics.

Composites can be made in a wide range of tooth colours allowing nearly invisible restoration of teeth. The main advantage of a dental composite over traditional materials such as amalgam (silver fillings) is improved aesthetics and Micromechanical bond to the tooth surface which allows good adhesion of the composite filling to the tooth. This means that unlike silver filling there is no need for the dentist to create retentive features, destroying healthy tooth.

White fillings can be used to restore decayed, chipped or broken portions of teeth almost invisibly, cover unsightly marks and enhance the shape of front teeth as well as reducing or closing the gaps between the teeth. One of the fastest and easiest ways to get a brand new smile is to opt for white fillings.

White fillings are suitable for use in front and most back teeth, eliminating unsightly areas of decay or discoloration which in turn will enhance your confidence to smile.

The life expectancy of a white filling can depend greatly on where it is in your mouth and how heavily your teeth come together when you bite as well as your diet and oral hygiene habits.

To learn more about white fillings (composite) treatments give us a call on 020 7241 4161 or email us at to arrange a consultation.




You might think of amalgam fillings for teeth as a classic option. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), dentists have been using this type of filling for more than 150 years. As the name suggests, amalgam fillings are made up of a mixture of metals. They typically contain about 50 percent mercury, along with tin, copper, silver or zinc. Compared to other types, amalgam fillings have a few things going for them: They are the least pricey option and they’re also very strong and long-lasting.

Amalgam fillings aren’t without drawbacks, though. They’re silver in colour to start and tend to become darker with time, meaning they are a fairly conspicuous item when you open your mouth. And although the FDA has determined that the level of mercury in the filling is safe for people over the age of six, you might prefer not to have a filling made from this material.

To learn more about our amalgam fillings treatments email us at to arrange a consultation