Dental Filling : What do I need to Know?

Research Based
Medically reviewed by - Dr. MESSANGA Dimitri, MD Written by - Dr. Shilpa R


What is dental filling?

Dental fillings, also called restorations, are a frequent treatment for cavities, which are areas of rotting teeth that create small holes. A single substance or a combination of materials, such as glass, plastic, metal, or other substances, are used to fill up damaged tooth areas before being hardened. Dental fillings preserve the tooth’s structure and continue the function of the tooth. This article covers the indications, different types of fillings, the process, and aftercare.

Dental fillings, also called restorations, are a frequent treatment for cavities, which are areas of rotting teeth that create small holes.


Indications for a filling

Some signs that there is a cavity that needs filling are as follows

  • Sensitivity of the teeth – too cold or hot meals or beverages.
  • A pit or hole in a tooth.1Indications| Researched based study from
  • Toothache.1Indications| Researched based study from
  • A discolored or stained tooth.
  • Pain while chewing.

If one suffers from the symptoms listed above, visit a dentist to determine if they require a dental filling or other kinds of therapy.


What is a cavity?

  • Cavities, sometimes called decay of the teeth or caries, are portions of the teeth’ hard surface that have been irreparably destroyed and have formed pits or holes.
  • Some things, such as oral bacteria, frequent snacking, consuming sugary beverages, and inadequate tooth cleaning, contribute to their development.
  • Cavities can affect anyone who has teeth.1Cavity| Researched based study from

The following areas of the mouth may have an increased risk of acquiring cavities

  • In between the teeth.
  • Chewing surfaces of the teeth.
  • Areas of the teeth close to the gums.


Types of filling

There are two types and might include

Direct fillings

  • These are placed directly inside a tooth cavity.2Filling| Researched based study from
  • Uses dental composite, silver-colored amalgam, or other acceptable restorative materials.
  • It is advised against chewing on anything tough for a day or two to reduce the chance of the filling breaking or coming loose.

Indirect fillings

  • The impression from the patient’s mouth is used to create indirect fillings at a dental laboratory.3Filling| Researched based study from
  • Recommended when a person’s tooth is not damaged enough to need a crown but has insufficient tooth structure to sustain a filling.
  • Inlays and on lays are two forms of indirect fillings.
  • When compared to traditional fillings, inlays, and on lays are more durable and may last as much as thirty years.
  • Porcelain, gold, or composite resin with a tooth-colored finish can be made.

Types of materials used

The following are some of the materials that can be used to fill a cavity in a tooth, and the dentist will be the best person to identify which is appropriate for your cavity

Silver amalgam

  • It is one of the most popular types of dental filling, containing silver, tin, zinc, copper, and mercury combined.4Filling| Researched based study from
  • It is recognized as an effective, trustworthy, and safe material to treat cavities.
  • People allergic to metals or mercury should avoid it.
  • Because of amalgam’s metallic color, patients preferred tooth-colored restorative materials more for improved aesthetics.5Filling| Researched based study from

Gold fillings

  • It is made of gold and other metals and is quite durable.
  • The dental procedure for filling cavities with gold may be the oldest and most thoroughly studied.6Filling| Researched based study from
  • Gold fillings are usually produced in a laboratory after the dentist takes an imprint of the tooth and may require more than one office visit to fill.
  • They are more expensive than other materials.


  • These cost about the same as gold fillings but look more natural.
  • They are made in a lab according to the impression of the tooth taken.

Tooth-colored composites

  • They are made of acrylic resin mixed with quartz or glass particles.
  • This substance is more expensive than silver amalgams but is more enduring.7Filling| Researched based study from
  • Patients tend to favor these the most due to their aesthetic appeal.
  • Compared to a porcelain filling, they are less expensive.

Glass ionomer fillings

  • They are made up of glass and acrylic that contains fluoride and helps to prevent cavities.8Filling| Researched based study from
  • They have comparable strength to composites but are less durable.
  • They are most commonly used on a kid’s tooth.

Temporary filling

What is a temporary filling?

  • It is a semi-permanent method to treat a damaged tooth.
  • These fillings aren’t meant to last, so a follow-up consultation with the dentist is required to change a short-term fill for a permanent one.
  • When combined with saliva, their softer construction elements become harder. A filling may contain glass ionomers, Cavit, zinc phosphate cement, zinc oxide eugenol, or intermediate restorative materials.
  • Over time, they deteriorate gradually. The softer substance means they could break and fall out if they aren’t changed.

A dentist may use them in the following circumstances

  • After a root canal.
  • Emergency dental care.
  • Before placing a permanent filling. (Porcelain or gold inlays.)
  • To relax the inflamed pulp.


The procedure of a dental filling

The technique typically takes an hour and may involve the following steps

  • If a local anesthetic is necessary to numb the tooth area, they will first administer it to the patient.
  • Then, the dentist will probably use laser or a dental drill to remove the decayed parts of the tooth.
  • The dentist will then fill the hole after preparing the region for the filling.
  • Some fillings are cured or hardened using a blue-wavelength light.
  • The dentist will polish the filling and ensure the bite is proper before finishing.
  • After the numbing medication wears off, a tooth may feel slightly sore or sensitive, but there shouldn’t be any pain.


Post-filling precautions

  • The dentist might advise waiting to eat or drink until the numbing agent wears off to avoid accidentally biting one’s tongue or cheek interior.
  • For a day or two, one should steer clear from cold and hot beverages and foods. However, one can generally continue to eat as usual.
  • Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen are available over-the-counter and may ease any slight pain.
  • Following a filling, a person could be more sensitive to heat and cold caused by slight nerve irritation, gum inflammation, or inflammation from the drilling.9Precautions| Researched based study from

Usually, such experiences get better with time. Call the dentist if they continue to get worse.


Taking care of a filled tooth

For the fillings to remain in good shape, one should practice good oral hygiene.

  • Use fluoridated toothpaste to brush your teeth twice daily.
  • Make sure to floss every day at least once.
  • Make sure not to bite on hard items like candies with the filled tooth.
  • Schedule dental checkups and cleaning appointments with the dentist at least twice a year.


Complications associated with tooth filling

Contact the dentist right away if any of the following signs appear after obtaining a filling

  • Loose filling that falls out from the cavity.
  • Severe pain following a filling.
  • Extremely sensitive filled tooth.
  • Gums close to the filling become warm or red.
  • Swollen gum near the filled tooth.
  • Overfilled cavities that hit on clenching the teeth.
  • A fever.



Regular dental checkups aid in the early detection of tooth decay. The more quickly tooth decay is addressed, the better the result for the affected tooth and the less intrusive the therapy. Get the dentist’s opinion on the benefits and drawbacks of various filling options before getting a tooth filling. Additionally, they can advise on how to care for the filling properly. Fillings will last for a number of years if people practice good dental hygiene.

Disclaimer: The user acknowledges that this article's information is being offered for informational purposes only. Every attempt has been made to guarantee that the article is informational and correct. If they have any doubts or questions about their health, we firmly advise our readers to visit a doctor or other healthcare professional.

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