When a bacterial infection of the tooth causes a cavity, the tooth often requires a filling to remove the infected tooth structure (Enamel and dentin) and replace it with a restorative material to restore the tooth to normal form and function.
Different materials are used to replace the missing tooth structure. Most commonly patients request the “white fillings” which refers to a composite filling material.
Some patients may request a “Silver” filling which refers to dental amalgam. Dental amalgam is an alloy of multiple metals including silver and mercury. Silver fillings are considered some of the strongest fillings however have fallen out of favour as many patients tend to prefer tooth-coloured restorations. and others have a preference against Mercury containing restorations.
Occasionally a filling can be fabricated from porcelain, other ceramic material, or Gold. These are a special type of restoration known as an inlay. Inlays are often fabricated by a milling machine or lab and are cemented into place.
This filling option is not as common as the cost of these fillings can be 2 to 5 times the cost of a composite or amalgam filling and the longevity of the restoration may or may not be improved depending on the clinical situation and the patient’s dental health and diet.