What are Dental Fillings: Types, Cost, Aftercare

Most likely, we all know someone or have a dental filling ourselves. A dental filler is commonly used to repair a tooth cavity or tooth damage that has weakened the tooth’s structure. Dental fillings can be made from a variety of different materials, including composite tooth-colored resin, glass-ionomer cement, silver amalgam, gold, and ceramic/porcelain.

What are Dental Fillings

Your dental professional will determine if you are a candidate for dental fillings and will discuss options that are best for your smile.

What are Dental Fillings?

A cavity dental filling is a common dental procedure. A dental filling is used to repair teeth that are damaged or decayed. They are designed to restore the teeth to their original function and appearance.

Types of Dental Fillings(Materials)

There are many different types of dental fillings. In this section we will discuss common dental filling material including composite resin, amalgam, gold, and ceramic.

Composite Resin

Composite resin fillings are a popular restoration to repair a tooth cavity. This material is tooth-colored, offering an aesthetic benefit that matches the color of your existing natural teeth. It also often does not require extensive tooth removal to be placed. A disadvantage is that they tend not to last as long as some other types of dental fillings, having an average lifespan of 5-7 years before needing to be replaced.

Amalgam (Silver Fillings)

Amalgam fillings used to be more popular back in the day but have gained less attention since the arrival of composite fillings. Amalgam has the advantage of being long-lasting, with an average lifespan of approximately 10-15 years. They also tend to be less expensive than composite fillings. However, the silver appearance is not aesthetic to some individuals. Also, more tooth structure may need to be removed to hold the filling in place.

Gold Fillings

Gold fillings also used to be popular for their appearance. Similar to amalgam, these fillings last on average from 10 to 15 years. Gold fillings tend to be more expensive than other dental filling materials, and may be unesthetic to some individuals. These restorations also may require more than one dental appointment to be placed.

Ceramic (Porcelain)

Ceramic/porcelain dental fillings have the advantage of being more resistant to staining than composite fillings. These fillings are also esthetically pleasing and can last for more than 15 years on average. Yet, ceramic/porcelain material is expensive and usually shares similar costs to gold fillings.

Dental Crown vs Filling vs Dental Inlay

FeatureDental CrownDental FillingDental Inlay
Material UsedPorcelain
Durability10+ years10+ years5-20 years
Procedure Time1-3 hours20 min-1 hour1-1.5 hours
Ideal UseModerate to major tooth damageMinimal tooth damageModerate tooth damage
Cost$800 - $3,000 per tooth$50 to $150 per tooth$650 to $1,200 per tooth

Dental Filling Procedure & Treatment

The step by step dental filling procedure is fairly simple. The dental filling procedure often starts with dental anesthetic to numb the area. Your dentist will then remove any tooth decay or damaged tooth structure. They ensure that the tooth structure is sound before preparing the tooth with etch and bond material. Next, your dentist will place the filling material of choice into the preparation. Finally, the restoration is polished and your bite is checked to ensure comfort.

What's a Temporary Filling

A temporary dental filling is used to help keep your tooth sealed until a more permanent restoration is placed. As these are not permanent, they are not meant to last much longer than a few weeks. They tend not to be very durable and can be made from common materials such as zinc oxide eugenol, Cavit, zinc phosphate cement, and glass ionomers.

How Long Does a Dental Filling Take

On average, a dental filling takes an hour or less. This can depend on the complexity of the initial tooth damage, number of teeth being filled, and the type of filling material used.

Managing Pain and Aftercare

Some individuals may experience mild discomfort or pain after dental filling, which is often temporary. For most fillings, your dental professional will use a dental block to numb the area. After the procedure, your dentist may recommend being cautious when eating immediately after to avoid damaging the soft tissues in your mouth while you are still numb. Some individuals may experience temporary teeth sensitivity, which can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers like Tylenol or Ibuprofen. If you are experiencing any prolonged symptoms or severe pain, it is important to contact your dentist.

Costs and Considerations for Dental Fillings

A dental filling cost may depend on a variety of factors. These factors can include the size of your cavity or tooth damage, the material used for the filling, and the number and type of teeth requiring fillings. The average cost of dental fillings in the United States is between $200 to $600.

Insurance and Financial Options

Many dental insurance plans offer coverage for preventive services, including dental fillings. In general, insurance providers may cover 80% of the dental filling cost. Don’t have dental insurance and wondering, ‘how much is a dental filling without insurance?’ The cost of dental fillings can vary based on numerous factors, but on average range between $200 to $600 per tooth. Some dentists may offer payment plans, discounts, or other financing options to make the procedure more affordable.

What to Expect at Great Lakes Family Dental

In need of a dental filling? At Great Lakes Family Dental Group, you can expect nothing short of exceptional care to address your dental filling needs. Our high quality and affordable dental services are unmatched. Contact us today at Great Lakes Family Dental Group to schedule a consultation so that we can help you maintain a perfect smile.