There are many different types of filling material to choose from, based on their availability.
Amalgam fillings are silver coloured and have been used in dentistry for around 150 years. They are long lasting and hard wearing for up to 20 years. Though there is mercury present in dental amalgam, because it is combined with other materials, it is not poisonous as its chemical nature is changed.
Composite fillings are also quite strong, but not as strong as amalgam, but they benefit from being tooth coloured, and therefore hard to detect. Composite fillings are made from powdered glass quartz, silica or other ceramic particles and are added to a resin base.
Glass ionomer and porcelain inlays also benefit from being tooth coloured. Glass ionomer fillings are quite weak and so are only used on baby teeth or non-biting surfaces – they can also release fluoride which can help prevent further decay to the tooth.
With the rise of digital technology (called CADCAM), dentists can also design custom fitting porcelain inlays which are hard wearing and long lasting, however, these are quite an expensive option. There is also the option to have gold inlays and onlays, which is, you guessed it – gold coloured! Gold is the hardest wearing and long lasting of all the materials, but again is quite expensive.
If you’re looking to get a filling, speak to your dentist and ask about the different types they offer and which one would be best for your individual situation before going ahead with treatment.