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Understanding Dental Fillings: Materials and Choices

Dental fillings play a crucial role in the world of oral health, offering a solution to one of the most common dental issues: tooth decay. By effectively restoring the integrity of a damaged tooth, fillings improve oral function and prevent further decay and complications. Good oral hygiene and the strategic use of dental fillings lay the foundation for a healthy mouth. This post delves into the various materials used in dental fillings to inform patients about their options and the significance of regular dental visits.

What Are Dental Fillings?

Dental fillings are materials used by dentists to repair teeth damaged by decay. The process involves removing the decayed material from the tooth, cleaning the affected area, and then filling the cavity with a material that restores the tooth’s structure and function. Fillings are essential for restoring a tooth’s health and preventing further decay by sealing off spaces where bacteria could enter.

Types of Dental Fillings

When it comes to dental fillings, patients have several materials to choose from, each with its own set of advantages and considerations. Here’s a closer look at the most common filling types available today.

Dental Amalgam Fillings

Dental amalgam, often called silver fillings, is a durable material made from a mixture of metals, including silver, mercury, tin, and copper. Amalgam has been used for over a century and is valued for its strength, making it ideal for filling the molars where chewing force is most significant. Dental amalgam is considered safe for most people despite some concerns about mercury content and remains a cost-effective option for large cavities.

Composite Fillings

Composite resin fillings are preferred for their natural appearance, as they can be closely matched to the color of existing teeth. Made from a mixture of plastic and fine glass particles, composite fillings bond directly to the tooth structure, offering a more aesthetic solution for those who prefer tooth-colored fillings. They are suitable for repairing chipped, broken, or decayed teeth, especially those visible when smiling or talking. Additionally, some composite fillings are designed to release fluoride, helping to prevent further decay.

Glass Ionomer Fillings

Glass ionomer fillings are made from a blend of acrylic and glass material and are most commonly used in small fillings or under the gum line. Like some composite resins, glass ionomer releases fluoride over time, which helps protect the tooth from further decay. While not as strong or wear-resistant as dental amalgam or composite resin, glass ionomer can be a good choice for children or for areas not subjected to heavy chewing pressure.

Gold Fillings

Gold fillings, also known as inlays or onlays, are considered by some to be the gold standard for dental fillings due to their durability and longevity. Gold does not corrode, and many people find its appearance appealing. However, gold fillings are often the most expensive option and require multiple visits to place, making them a less common choice for most patients.

Choosing the Right Type of Filling for Your Teeth

The decision on the filling to use depends on several factors, including the tooth’s location, the extent of decay, patient allergies, and cost considerations. Dental insurance plans also play a role in this decision, as some plans cover certain types of fillings but not others. Talking to your dentist about which material best suits your specific needs and situation is essential.

The Importance of Visiting Your Dentist Regularly

Maintaining good oral hygiene and visiting your dentist regularly is vital to ensuring the longevity of your dental fillings. Regular check-ups allow your dentist to monitor your fillings’ condition and overall oral health, catching potential issues early. Good practices, such as brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and avoiding sugary snacks, can help extend the life of your fillings and keep your teeth healthy.

Dental Insurance and Fillings

Dental insurance plans vary widely in what they cover, including the types of dental fillings. Some insurance plans may fully cover the cost of amalgam fillings but only partially cover composite or gold fillings. Before deciding on a type of filling, it’s wise to contact your dentist and insurance provider to understand your coverage and any out-of-pocket costs you may incur.


Dental fillings are a fundamental aspect of dental care, providing a solution to tooth decay and helping to restore oral health. With various materials available, patients can choose a filling that meets their needs, preferences, and budget. Remember, the best way to care for your fillings and maintain your oral health is through good oral hygiene practices and regular visits to your dentist. By staying informed and proactive about your dental care, you can enjoy a healthy, beautiful smile for years to come.


Discover a Lifetime of Healthy Smiles at Omni Dental in Arlington Heights

At Omni Dental, nestled in the heart of Arlington Heights, we understand that your smile is as important to you as it is to us. Led by the renowned Dr. Bilus Poles, with over 20 years of experience in the field, our clinic stands as a beacon of excellence and personalized dental care. Whether you’re grappling with tooth pain, suspect you might need a filling, or simply aiming for a routine check-up, our doors are always open to welcome you.

Dr. Poles and our dedicated team are committed to providing compassionate, individualized care that addresses your unique needs and concerns. We believe in building lasting relationships with our patients, ensuring you receive the highest quality of care in a comforting and supportive environment. Our goal is to guide you toward achieving and maintaining impeccable oral health, ensuring your smile remains vibrant for years to come.

Don’t let dental discomfort or uncertainty linger any longer. Contact us at Omni Dental in Arlington Heights today and take the first step on your journey to a healthier, brighter smile. Schedule your appointment with Dr. Bilus Poles and experience the difference that over two decades of dental expertise can make. Your optimal oral health is our top priority, and we’re here to support you every step of the way.


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