doctor checking patient for dental fillings

Dental fillings are a cornerstone in the maintenance of dental health, providing a solution for teeth that have been compromised by decay or damage. This article will delve into the various aspects of dental fillings, utilizing Australian resources to ensure the information is relevant and accurate for Australian readers.

What Are Dental Fillings?

Dental fillings, also known as tooth fillings, serve to restore the structure and function of teeth that have been damaged by decay or injury​1​. When a tooth’s natural integrity is compromised, a filling is used to ‘fill’ the space where decayed tooth material has been removed, bringing the tooth back to its original shape and function.

Types of Dental Fillings

The choice of filling material is influenced by the tooth’s location, the extent of the decay, aesthetic considerations, and the patient’s budget. Here are the most common types of dental fillings:

Amalgam Fillings

Comprising a mixture of metals such as mercury, silver, copper, zinc, and tin, dental amalgam has a storied history, being used for over 150 years​1​. Though durable, its silver colour can darken over time, and it requires more tooth structure to be removed for placement. Its use has declined in recent years due to aesthetic concerns and the presence of mercury.

Composite Resin Fillings

Composite resin fillings are popular due to their ability to match the colour of natural teeth, providing a more aesthetically pleasing result​1​. They are bonded directly to the tooth, allowing for conservation of tooth structure and are suitable for both front and back teeth.

Glass Ionomer Cement

Glass-ionomer cement (GIC) is a less durable option compared to composite resin but has the advantage of releasing fluoride, which can help prevent further tooth decay​2​. It’s often used for non-load-bearing areas of the tooth and as temporary fillings.

Gold and Porcelain Fillings

Gold and porcelain fillings, also known as inlays, are known for their durability and strength​1​. Porcelain can be matched to the tooth’s colour, making it an aesthetically desirable option. However, these fillings require at least two dental visits as they are crafted in a dental laboratory.

Fissure Sealants

Fissure sealants are not traditional fillings but are used to fill the natural grooves on the biting surfaces of the back teeth to prevent decay​​. These are particularly beneficial for children and teenagers.

Temporary Fillings

Temporary fillings are used in situations where the filling will need to be replaced soon, such as between treatments or in emergency dental care​

Post-Treatment Considerations

After a filling, patients may experience post-operative sensitivity, which typically diminishes within a few days to weeks​​. Persistent pain or discomfort should be evaluated by a dentist.


Dental fillings are a versatile and essential aspect of dental care, offering solutions that range from temporary fixes to long-lasting restorations. With a variety of materials available, patients have the flexibility to choose an option that best suits their needs, guided by the expertise of their dental professional.

At Dentists In Annerley, QLD, Australia, we pride ourselves on setting the highest standard of patient care, ensuring an experience that fuses comfort with unmatched dental health services. Our clinic acts as an oasis for advanced periodontal treatments, performed with precision and a delicate touch to guarantee the best oral health outcomes for our patients. Centrally located for Annerley residents and those from surrounding suburbs, we invite individuals from Woolloongabba, Greenslopes, Fairfield, Yeronga, Moorooka, Tarragindi, Holland Park, West End, Highgate Hill, Dutton Park, Coorparoo, Carina Heights, Mount Gravatt, East Brisbane, and Stones Corner to partake in exceptional dental care. Our dedication to oral health is solid, with a personalized approach to periodontal care that is aimed at enhancing both the resilience and aesthetics of our patients’ smiles.

In the bustling environment of Annerley and its nearby areas, Dentists In Annerley emerges as a haven of dental health and well-being. We address a broad range of dental needs, from routine examinations and cleanings to emergency dental treatments, all the while utilizing modern CEREC technology for immediate ceramic restorations. Our broad suite of services spans root canal therapies, wisdom tooth extractions, and the creation of tailored veneers, crowns, and implants, in addition to specializing in periodontics, pediatric dentistry, and orthodontic aligners. Our facility is equipped with contemporary X-ray machinery, ensuring an expedient and accurate diagnostic and treatment journey. We have meticulously designed every aspect of our practice to optimize the efficiency, thoroughness, and comfort of your visit.

The guiding principle at Dentists In Annerley is the belief that exemplary dental care should be within reach for everyone. We are committed to offering a comprehensive variety of dental services that cater to the varied dental concerns of our patients. From preventive maintenance to the craftsmanship of cosmetic dentistry, and the detailed care required for complex dental treatments, our team at Dentists In Annerley is steadfast in their quest for dental excellence. This dedication is apparent in our gentle demeanor and the detailed attention we apply in each treatment, ensuring every patient leaves with a smile that is as radiant in appearance as it is in health.

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Frequently Ask Questions

Dental fillings are a treatment used to repair and restore teeth that have been worn, decayed, or damaged. They involve the use of materials that can fill in parts of a tooth that has been affected and are then set hard to restore the tooth’s integrity and functionality​

Fillings are necessary to maintain tooth structure and keep teeth functioning properly after they have been compromised by decay or damage. They help prevent further decay by closing off spaces where bacteria can enter, are essential in restoring a tooth’s shape and strength, and ensure that the tooth can continue to perform its essential jobs like chewing properly​

Various materials are used for dental fillings, including composite resin, glass-ionomer cement, dental amalgam, gold, and porcelain. Each type has its benefits and limitations, and some may be better suited to certain situations than others

The Australian Dental Association (ADA) supports the continued use of dental amalgam as a safe, durable, and effective material for dental restorations when used in appropriate clinical situations with proper mercury hygiene and disposal practices​4​. The ADA notes that amalgam has been used for over 150 years and extensive research has not linked it with health issues in the general population, except for specific vulnerable groups​

The lifespan of a dental filling can vary depending on the material used and the individual’s oral habits. Amalgam fillings, for instance, can last between 10 to 15 years or more, while composite resin fillings may need to be replaced every 5 to 7 years. Regular dental check-ups are crucial to monitor the condition of fillings and address any issues promptly

Most dental fillings can be completed in one appointment. However, certain types like gold or porcelain inlays may require two visits: one to prepare the tooth and take an impression, and a second to place the custom-made filling​

Most dental fillings can be completed in one appointment. However, certain types like gold or porcelain inlays may require two visits: one to prepare the tooth and take an impression, and a second to place the custom-made filling​

Yes, there are tooth-coloured filling options such as composite resin and porcelain that can be matched to the natural colour of your teeth, making them a popular choice for their aesthetic appeal

Composite resin fillings are made from a mixture of plastic and fine glass particles. They are tooth-coloured and can be closely matched to the colour of existing teeth, making them a preferred choice for visible areas of the mouth. They are bonded directly to the tooth, which can help to support the remaining tooth structure​

Signs that you may need a dental filling include tooth sensitivity, a hole in your tooth, pain when biting down, dark spots on the tooth, or food getting stuck in certain areas. Regular dental check-ups are vital as they can detect decay before it becomes symptomatic​

While dental fillings are meant to be permanent, they can fall out due to further decay, trauma, or wear over time. If a filling falls out, it’s important to contact your dentist as soon as possible to have it replaced and prevent further damage or decay​

Gold fillings are known for their durability and strength, which can make them a better choice for long-term wear, especially on molar teeth. However, ‘better’ is subjective and depends on factors such as the tooth’s location, patient’s aesthetic preferences, and budget

  • Typically, the dentist will remove decayed tooth material, clean the affected area, and then shape the cavity to prepare it for the filling. This process may involve local anesthesia to minimize discomfort.
  • Dental fillings don’t require special care, but good oral hygiene practices such as brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and regular dental check-ups are important to maintain them and prevent further decay.
  • Glass ionomer cement (GIC) is a dental restorative material used for fillings which has the added benefit of releasing fluoride to help protect the tooth from further decay. It is less durable than other types of fillings, thus often used in areas that don’t bear heavy chewing loads.
  • The process of getting a filling typically involves local anesthesia, which should prevent pain during the procedure. Some sensitivity or discomfort may occur once the anesthesia wears off, but this usually diminishes within a few days.
  • For tooth-coloured fillings, the dentist will use a shade guide to select a composite resin that matches the colour of your natural teeth. This allows the fillings to blend in and appear almost invisible.
  • The cost of dental fillings varies depending on the type of material used, the size of the filling, and the dental practice. In Australia, prices can range significantly, and it’s best to discuss with your dentist for an accurate estimate.

Yes, it is possible to replace amalgam fillings with composite (white) fillings for aesthetic reasons or if the amalgam filling is failing. However, replacing sound amalgam fillings without clinical indications does not necessarily result in better health outcomes​

The procedure typically involves numbing the area around the tooth, removing decay, cleaning the cavity, and then placing the filling material. The filling is then shaped and polished to fit the bite and match the rest of the tooth.

Prevention includes good oral hygiene practices like brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily, reducing intake of sugary foods and drinks, and regular dental check-ups to catch decay early

Fissure sealants are a preventive dental treatment where a thin layer of filling material is applied to the grooves of teeth, especially the back molars, to protect against decay by sealing out food and bacteria

Fissure sealants are a preventive dental treatment where a thin layer of filling material is applied to the grooves of teeth, especially the back molars, to protect against decay by sealing out food and bacteria

Temporary fillings are used in situations where a permanent filling cannot be placed immediately. This could be during emergency dental treatments, when multiple dental visits are required, or when awaiting a final restoration like a crown​

The ability to eat after a filling depends on the type of filling material used. Composite fillings harden instantly, allowing you to eat immediately, while amalgam fillings require at least 24 hours to harden completely, so solid foods should be avoided during this time​

Yes, after a filling, your dentist should check to ensure that your bite is even. If it’s not, they can make adjustments. An uneven bite can cause discomfort and problems with chewing​

Yes, maintaining good oral hygiene is essential after getting a filling. Brushing and flossing should not be neglected as they help keep the filled area clean and prevent infection​

Numbness after a filling is common due to the anaesthetic used during the procedure. It’s recommended to avoid eating or drinking hot beverages until the numbness wears off to prevent burns or damage to the filling​

Teeth grinding can damage your fillings and cause sensitivity or discomfort. If you have a habit of grinding your teeth, you should seek help from your dentist to protect your fillings​

It’s advised not to touch or poke the new filling, especially in children who may be curious about the sensation. Adults should also avoid trying to adjust any overfilling themselves and should consult their dentist​

After a filling, you should avoid sticky and hard foods initially as they can displace the filling or damage it before it has fully set. Your dentist will guide you on when you can resume eating such foods​

Mild to moderate pain or discomfort after a filling is normal. However, if pain persists for an extended period, it’s important to consult your dentist to determine the underlying cause and receive appropriate treatment​