No one in the dentist’s chair wants to hear the phrase “You have a cavity.” We all make mistakes sometimes, so it’s good to know you have a backup plan. The process is very self-explanatory: there’s a hole in your teeth that needs to be filled, so your dentist chooses from a myriad of materials to make your teeth whole again. The big question is: which material do you choose from?

The oldest kind of fillings are amalgam fillings. As their name suggests, they’re made with an amalgamation of different metals including silver, tin, zinc, copper and mercury. These fillings are typically the cheapest available and last well over seven years, but require dentists to remove quite a bit of healthy tooth in the process.

Composite fillings are much newer and made with a strong resin base. It takes at least two visits to complete the filling: one for the dentist to measure the cavity and one for the dentist to place the filling. Resin fillings are more expensive than amalgam fillings, but cheaper than gold fillings. They don’t last as long either; resin fillings usually have a shelf life of five years. But resin fillings also bond to your tooth, making your tooth stronger.

Gold fillings are, as you can imagine, much more expensive than the alternatives. That being said, they can last between ten to fifteen years, so clearly if durability is your biggest concern, gold may be your best bet. One other disadvantage is how long it takes to place them. With gold fillings, it takes at least two visits to place them.

If you’d rather have tooth-colored fillings, your best bet are either ceramic fillings or glass iometer fillings. Both are susceptible to fracture, but ceramics can last from anywhere between five and seven years. Ceramic fillings require a lot of space meaning the dentist will need to remove some healthy parts of your tooth. Conversely, glass fillings don’t require any tooth removal.

If you have any questions about fillings, please consult Dr. Einollahi.