Selecting The Proper Filling Material

Dental restorations are also called ‘fillings’ and are used to repair cracked, broken, worn, or decayed teeth.

Types of Filling Materials:
There are multiple material options for dental fillings. The location, extent of decay, cost of filling material, your insurance coverage, and your dentist’s recommendation will all contribute to determining the best filling for you.


  • Durability – lasts at least 10-15 years or longer; doesn’t corrode
  • Strength – can withstand chewing forces
  • Aesthetics – Some patients prefer the look to silver


  • Expense – up to 10x more costly than silver amalgam fillings
  • Additional Office Visits – requires at least two visits to place
  • Galvanic Shock – if placed next to a silver amalgam filling, the metals may interact and cause an electric current that feels like a sharp pain (rare occurrence)
  • Aesthetics – most patients dislike all metal fillings and prefer tooth-colored ones


Silver Amalgam
This consists of mercury mixed with silver, tin, zinc, and copper.


  • Durability – lasts at least 10-15 years or longer and typically outlasts composite fillings
  • Strength – can withstand chewing forces
  • Expense – less expensive than composite


  • Poor Aesthetics – don’t match color of natural teeth
  • Destruction of more tooth structure – more of the tooth must be removed to make enough space to hold the filling
  • Discoloration – can create a grayish hue to surrounding tooth
  • Cracks and Fractures – often has a wider degree of expansion and contraction than other filling materials, causing a higher incidence of cracks and fractures
  • Allergic Reactions – approximately 1% of people are allergic to the mercury

Tooth-Colored Composite Resins
Composites are made of a tooth-colored mixture of glass and resin.


  • Aesthetics – shade can be closely matched to existing teeth
  • Bonding – chemically bond to natural tooth, providing further support
  • Versatility – can also be used to repair chipped, broken, or worn teeth
  • Tooth-Sparing Prep – sometimes more of the natural tooth can be saved when removing decay and preparing for the filling, compared to amalgam fillings


  • Lack of Durability – deteriorate faster than amalgam fillings (lasting only five years); may not withstand pressure of chewing if used for large cavities
  • Increased Chair Time – take up to 20 minutes longer than amalgam to place
  • Additional Visits – if used for inlays or inlays, more than one office visit may be required
  • Chipping – depending on location, composite materials can chip off the tooth
  • Expense – can cost up to twice the cost of amalgam

Other tooth-colored fillings exist in addition to composite resin fillings:

Typically made of porcelain, they are more resistant to staining than composite material but are also more abrasive against your natural teeth. Lasting more than 15 years, they can cost as much as gold.


Glass Ionomer
Composed of acrylic and a specific type of glass, this is often used for fillings below the gum line or for young children for short-term baby teeth solutions. It’s weaker than composite resin, more susceptible to wear, and prone to fracture, so they are usually policed on low-stress areas. Lasting less than five years, the cost is on par with composite resin.

If you are experiencing tooth pain, or have noticed any of your teeth have cracked or broken, call Dr. Arhiri at 610-647-7611 or email He will diagnose the problem and determine the best solution for the location in your mouth and your insurance or budget

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