Dental Filling Overview

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Dental filling is often referred to as dental restoration. Similar to the application of porcelain veneers, dental fillings occur in a two-step process. Dental fillings are less of a cosmetic surgery than veneers. People get fillings in order to decrease decay from a damaged tooth. Dental fillings occur before serious damage can be done to the tooth. After tooth decay worsens, a dental filling is no longer an option. Dental fillings are common among many people in the world and it is not an unusual procedure seen at the dentists’ office.  

Reasons For A Filling 

Dental fillings are more common than one might think. Among the different reasons for needing a tooth filled, the most common is a cavity. Children get them, adults are full and the elderly have had plenty of teeth filled due to cavities. Other reasons for needing a tooth filling are: 

  • Cracked tooth  
  • Chipped tooth  
  • Replacement of prior filling 
  • Small hole(s) in teeth 
  • Discolored tooth (teeth) 
  • Damage to teeth 
  • Loss of tooth structure 

Types of fillings 

Like many other dental procedures, there are different materials that work best for each patient. Here a list of different filling material that a dentist may present to you.  

  • Silver (Amalgam) filling- This is probably the most common type of filling used by dentists. If you open your mouth while looking in the mirror, chances are you will spot one or two of these types of fillings. They are one of the most inexpensive filling types and are resistant.  
  • Plastic resins- If you have a filing that is very visible, then the dentist may recommend this plastic filing. It is the same color as teeth. Unfortunately, due to its material, it is not the most long-lasting filling. It is important to note that this type of filling easily stains.  
  • Porcelain fillings- Porcelain fillings are also the same color as teeth. It is a stain resistant material that is long-lasting. Opposite of plastic fillings, this type of filling is one of the most expensive.  
  • Gold fillings- Gold fillings are rarely used because of their cost. This type of filling can last up to 20 years, which is the longest amount of time among the types of fillings. On the contrary to popular belief, gold fillings are not comfortable or cause issues.   


As previously mentioned, dental fillings occur in two steps. Before anything can begin, a dentist will use local anesthesia to numb the area. During the first step of a dental filling, the dentist will remove all of the decaying teeth or tooth. Once all the decay has been removed, the dentist will test to ensure they have cleared everything out. Unlike other dental procedures, the second part occurs immediately after the first step and there is no need to wait additional days. During the second procedure, the dentist will fill the tooth with specific material to help the tooth function normally. Depending on the type of filling used, the set time can vary. For example, amalgam filling can take 24 hours to fully set.  

Recovery Time 

There is no specific set time of recovery from a dental filling. A few things to remember right after the dental procedure is done is to: avoid caffeine, solid foods, hot or cold drinks. Due to the fact that local anesthesia is used for the filling, your mouth will need up to four hours to “wake” up. Avoid eating hard, sticky and spicy foods for up to 24 hours. By following the dentist’s instructions, one should not have a problem with recovery from this procedure.  

Pros and Cons  

There really is no way to get around a tooth filling. If you have damage, a cavity or something else, your dentist will request that you get your tooth filled. The pros and cons of this list is a comparison to which type of filling one should use. 


  • Silver filling are an affordable option  
  • Porcelain fillings are very durable  
  • Plastic fillings are the cheapest option and inexpensive to repair 
  • Gold fillings can last for up to 20 years, with little to no repair work needed 


  • Silver fillings are more visible than the other filings 
  • Porcelain fillings are costly and usually not covered by insurance 
  • Plastic fillings can have a lifespan of 3-5 years, depending on proper oral hygiene 
  • Gold filings are the most expensive option