Choices for Fillings Materials

Today, dentistry can offer you choices in how to restore your teeth. In the past, your dentist chose the material for you, usually without you even knowing you had this choice.

If your tooth is badly broken down, then a crown makes the most sense. With modern adhesives that will chemically bond a filling to a tooth, many teeth that would have been automatically crowned in 1990 can be successfully restored with fillings today.

Most of you will prefer a large filling since it saves much of your natural tooth and costs much less than a crown. If a front tooth is broken or decayed, a plastic filing can be used. No one wants to smile and show a metal filling!

So what about fillings on back teeth? Modern materials have given you two choices: silver/mercury or composite plastics. Until 1980 almost all fillings in posterior teeth were silver/mercury (over 110 million fillings in 1990). Currently there is concern about the safety of the mercury in these fillings. There have been many studies completed in recent years that confirm that mercury, when combines with silver and other metals becomes inert and is safe. The only health hazard to silver/mercury fillings is dental allergy. If you are allergic to mercury, you will show a reddish rash on your gums or cheeks following an appointment where these fillings were placed, but no disease (MS, arthritis, etc) has ever been proven to be aggravated by silver/mercury fillings. If you are concerned that you might be sensitive to mercury, a patch test will confirm the results.

SO IS PLASTIC OR METAL RIGHT FOR YOU? Here are some checklists:


  • Durable (8 15 yrs minimum)
  • Easy to place
  • Least expensive material
  • One appointment
  • Can be repaired
  • More wear resistant than plastic
  • Must remove some sound tooth
  • Poor esthetics
  • Transmits heat/cold sensations


  • Very esthetic appearance
  • Less sensitivity to hot/cold
  • One appointment
  • Easy to repair
  • May strengthen tooth
  • Less tooth removed in preparation
  • Can't self-seal cracks
  • Greater chance of recurrent decay
  • Wears more (resurface in 10 years)
  • Breaks easier
  • Requires a longer appointment
  • More expensive than silver fillings


A final word on fillings - Dr. Chopra takes great pride in our dentistry. A new filling will often feel strange when you bite on it. Most are sensitive to hot or cold for a few weeks after they are placed. In fact, you may want to take two Tylenol or Ibuprofen immediately after the appointment to reduce this post treatment discomfort. However, after this initial discomfort, your filling should be trouble free. If it is uncomfortable after a few days, please call us to recheck the filling, it may need to be adjusted.


Cosmetic Dental Procedures | Crowns and Bridges | Dental Implants | Tooth Whitening | Dental Fillings
Choices for Filling Materials | Removable Prosthetics | Dental Crowns | Dental Bridges | Clenching and Grinding