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Fact Sheets

Got a cavity?

You'd be surprised at how many different ways there are to fill it.

A filling is a common procedure to repair a cavity or hole in a tooth. But did you know you have options? For many years, silver amalgam was most commonly used in fillings. Today, other materials are widely used and you have more choices than ever. There are now silver, gold, or even virtually invisible white fillings. There is no longer a standard filling that's right for every situation.

There are two categories of fillings.

Indirect fillings
An indirect filling may be necessary when a cavity is too large for a direct filling. These fillings are made up outside of the mouth. This allows for strengthening of the filling using heat and chemicals that cannot be used in the mouth. It commonly takes two appointments to place an indirect filling. Indirect fillings can be made of gold, porcelain or composite resin. Each material has its own unique advantages and indications for use. Talk to your dentist about the right material to meet your needs.

Direct fillings
These fillings are made up directly in the mouth and are commonly completed in one appointment. Direct fillings can be made of silver amalgam or composite resin.

Amalgam is the grey/black material once commonly referred to as a filling. It is now only one of a number of acceptable materials available to restore the form and function of a tooth. It will not, unfortunately, restore the appearance of a tooth due to its color. Unlike earlier techniques for placing amalgam fillings, today amalgam is bonded to the tooth creating a better seal around the filling.

(If you have a dental plan it may only cover the fee for an equivalent non-bonded amalgam filling). Amalgam fillings take 24 hours to fully set. You should avoid using the tooth during this time.

Composite resin fillings are the white direct fillings. In addition to restoring the form and function of a tooth these fillings can be matched to the color of the tooth. Teeth with white fillings look natural, not repaired. (If you have a dental plan it may only cover the fee for an equivalent bonded or non-bonded amalgam). White fillings are completely set when you leave and the tooth can be used right away.

Make an informed choice about the options and advantages, disadvantages, and fees for each. If you need a filling, talk to your dentist. We care about you and your teeth.

This information courtesy of your Manitoba Dentist.