Tooth Fillings

Fillings are dental restorations that replace lost tooth structure that occurred due to decay, acid erosion, tooth wear, or fractures. There are several materials that can be used to restore the tooth.

Composite resin (white filling)

There are many advantages to tooth-colored restorations. They are very esthetic and often are unable to be seen. Because they bond to tooth structure, they create a very tight fit and add strength to the tooth.  This material requires only one visit.


Porcelain is another option for a white restoration.  It is commonly called an inlay or onlay, and it is usually reserved for teeth that have a large amount of tooth structure missing.  It also bonds to the tooth, and because it is essentially a glass product, it has the most polished and natural appearance of all the filling materials.  The porcelain is custom-made in a laboratory, which requires two appointments, but the patient will have a temporary restoration in the interim. The final restoration lasts a very long time.

Silver Amalgam

Silver is a very strong and durable material that is primarily used in areas of the mouth that are difficult to keep dry during the procedure.  The material is very long-lasting, but it is most often used on the back teeth that are not easily seen.  It only requires one visit.


Gold fillings, typically referred to as inlays and onlays, are excellent restorations that adapt well to the tooth and have a tight fit and seal.  Gold does not warp or tarnish like silver does, and as a result lasts a very long time.  It is reserved for teeth missing a large amount of tooth.   

The advantages and disadvantages of the different options may be discussed with Dr. O’Malley.  He will make a recommendation as to which material would be best for the patient’s individual need. Regardless of which type of filling is used, it is very important after a restoration is placed to keep the tooth clean.  It is often the surrounding tooth structure around a dental restoration that becomes problematic and causes the restoration to fail, and not a defect in the restorative material itself.