A filling is a material used to restore a tooth that has been damaged in some way, usually because of decay or a fracture. It can also be used to change the shape and colour of a tooth in order to improve its aesthetics and function.

When deciding on what filling material is best for you, the dentist will provide you with advice on the advantages and disadvantages of each type so you can make an informed decision for your tooth.

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Several types of filling material include:

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  • Tooth-coloured filling that usually lasts between 7-12 years, but depends on how damaged the tooth is and how well the filling is placed by the dentist. This type of filling is moderately priced, and is completed in a single appointment.


  • Silver-coloured filling material that usually lasts between 10-20 years, but depends mainly on how well the tooth is maintained by the patient. These fillings have a low cost, and contain silver, tin, copper, zinc and mercury. However, the mercury component has been condemned by many people, and along with its silver colour, this has caused a fall in its popularity in the last 2 decades.


  • Tooth-coloured filling material that often contains fluoride. This type of restoration is weaker than other filling materials, and often wears much quicker as well. With a lower longevity (3-7 years), they are most commonly used as temporary fillings, fillings for baby teeth, or in patients with a high risk of decay.


  • Tooth-coloured restorations that may cover some or all surfaces of a damaged tooth, and usually last between 10-20 years depending on how well the tooth is maintained by the patient. These restorations are pricier than other types of fillings, although they often last much longer. It is best used in moderate-large sized restorations for any tooth, and requires at least two appointments.