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Dental Fillings

Have you been experiencing a certain twinge in your tooth lately? Maybe it’s time to visit the dentist! Dental fillings are an incredibly common procedure that millions of people undergo.

Fillings can help restore teeth that have been damaged due to cavities, decay, and even trauma. In this article, we’ll explore the different types of dental fillings available and when they might be needed.

When it comes to dental fillings, there are several choices available. Gold and amalgam (silver) fillings used to be very popular but today composite resin is often preferred as it mimics the natural look of teeth more closely.

Gold is still a good choice for long-term restoration while amalgam provides a stronger and more durable seal.

It’s important to remember that fillings are not just for cavities! They can also be used to repair cracked, chipped, and worn down teeth as well.

Fillings should only be done by a qualified dentist or dental professional and it’s important that you get regular checkups to ensure your teeth stay healthy.

So how do you know if you need a filling? If you experience pain when eating or drinking cold food or drinks, sensitivity to sweet foods, discoloration of the tooth, a visible hole in the enamel, or swelling around the area; these could all be signs that you need a filling.

If any of these symptoms sound familiar, make sure to visit your dentist

When does a tooth filling become necessary?

A tooth should always be treated when the outer layer of the tooth – the enamel – has been damaged.


Tooth fillings replace the natural protection of teeth – and prevent worse.

So either when there is a hole in the tooth, or when part of the tooth has broken off.

The most common reasons that make a tooth filling necessary are:

  • Tooth damage due to decay from an accident
  • Severe abrasion of the tooth surface

Recommendation:If you notice a hole forming in your tooth or a piece of one of your teeth has broken off, see a specialist and get advice as soon as possible.

What should a dental filling do?

When you have a hole in your tooth filled, you usually make some demands on the filling.

tooth-filling durability

The most important features of a dental filling: long durability & a natural appearance.

This should absolutely match the appearance & the tooth color of the other teeth and also be particularly resistant to this.

  • A dental filling is best when it is not noticeable and helps to load the treated tooth normally (without pressure pain).
  • And of course: Since the change of a dental filling is very unpleasant, it should also be extremely long-term service & durable for years.

Since there are dental fillings made of very different materials, the cost factor is also an important criterion in the choice.

In the following sections, I address all of these points.

The different types of dental fillings

For filling teeth, dentists use different materials, all of which have their own characteristic properties.

insert tooth filling

The first big difference: the choice between regular fillings or custom-fit inlays.

Generally, there are two big differences between filling materials:

  1. On the one hand, there are normal fillings, which are filled into the tooth and then cure there.
  2. And on the other hand, there are insert fillings, which are also called inlays or onlays.

The doctor makes these after taking firm impressions and then inserts them into the tooth for an exact fit.

(Normal dental fillings, on the other hand, the dentist works directly until they harden after a few minutes).

Both forms of dental filling use materials made of metal as well as materials made of plastic. I will go into more detail about the advantages and disadvantages later.

What materials are available for dental fillings?

In addition to the type of filling, the material used represents the 2nd important characteristic.

filling amalgam

Unattractive, but very durable (not to mention very inexpensive): dental fillings made of amalgam.

  • A classic among the materials for dental fillings is amalgam. In this special report you will find everything you need to know about amalgam fillings in teeth.
  • Very often plastics are also used to fill holes and fractures in teeth. Around which plastics it is and how the process looks exactly, you can in the article about plastic & Composite dental fillings.
  • Inlays or inlay fillings are made of different materials: here you can choose between gold, ceramic, and plastic. Also for this variant, I have a text with all the information about inlays & Inlays.

So there is enough choice – the only question is which variant is the best for your teeth.

Which dental filling is the right one?

There are two crucial factors in choosing the right dental filling:

  • Type and extent of the tooth cavity
  • Aesthetic preferences of the patient

The right filling for any hole in the tooth

Your doctor will close small holes in the tooth with different filling materials than large damage.

  • If the decay is not too far advanced, then a composite tooth filling (made of different plastics is often used)
  • On the other hand, if you have large cavities, the dentist will often fill your tooth with specially made inlays made of ceramic or metal.
  • If you wait too long, then possibly only dentures such as a dental bridge or an expensive implant will help.

Very important to most patients is also the aesthetic aspect when choosing a dental filling.

In terms of appearance, the individual materials differ greatly

Plastics or ceramics are white and much easier to match the shade of your own teeth.

  • Composite fillings resemble the natural tooth color and are not visible in everyday life. The same is true for ceramics.
  • A dental filling made of metal – if it is not exactly gold – can later lead to an unattractive image when laughing due to the dark shade.

Metal fillings made of gold or amalgam stand out clearly from the natural teeth and are therefore preferably used in the back teeth (there they are not too easy to see).

dental fillings natural white

Modern composite fillings are virtually indistinguishable from natural teeth

However: health insurance does not cover all costs.

If you prefer plastic or ceramic instead of dark metal, you usually have to pay the additional costs yourself.

The cost of dental fillings

Besides appearance, cost is usually the most important criterion when choosing a material

In addition, the location of the affected tooth plays a major role.

Depending on which tooth is affected and how large the hole in the tooth is, health insurance will only cover the cost of certain materials.

Front teeth are filled with plastic

For the teeth that are always visible (usually all incisors and canines) in the upper and lower jaws, the doctor almost always chooses plastic dental fillings for aesthetic reasons.

These best match the appearance and color of the teeth. German health insurance companies cover the entire cost of these.

Back teeth get an amalgam dental filling

For back teeth, amalgam is usually a widely used alternative as a filler because this material is much cheaper than plastic fillings.

  • That is why health insurance companies only pay for amalgam, because the aesthetic aspect is not as decisive here as it is on the front teeth.
  • If you want a dental filling made of plastic for back teeth, there is usually an additional cost for this.

The same applies to more noble materials and inlays – a normal statutory health insurance does not cover these fillings.

The prices for dental fillings are made up of:

The actual price of a dental filling depends on many factors. It depends on these things in addition to the amount of treatment required:

  • Type and size of the tooth hole
  • Quantity of material and processing
  • Cost coverage of the health insurance

Whoever opts for plastic instead of amalgam can expect a co-payment of 40 to 100 euros. Ceramic or gold inlays, on the other hand, can cost between 250 and 600 euros per tooth.

tooth filling cost

TIP:Always have your dentist provide you with a specific estimate of all costs

For all dental fillings, the actual cost is compared to what the health insurance company will pay. You only pay the difference between the basic treatment and any additional services you choose.

What to consider when deciding on a dental filling

Please remember that your teeth will be with you for many years.

It is often worth it to pay a little more and choose a nicer or more resistant material – and in return see a beautiful smile & white teeth in the mirror every day.

Quick decisions & rash money-saving can – often prove to be wrong after a short time when it comes to dental fillings –

This is how the treatment for dental fillings

Filling holes in teeth is a very common type of treatment in any dental practice.

As a rule, the dentist performs the following steps in the process:

  1. First, he checks how big the hole in the tooth is and informs you about the possibilities of the filling.
  2. Then the affected tooth is cleaned of decay and debris. If it is a deep hole, local anesthesia may also be used in the process.
  3. The dentist then cleans the hole to ensure the best possible fit and long-term adhesion of the chosen filling.
  4. a) If you are getting a plastic filling, it will now be placed and begin to harden.
  5. b) If you have chosen an inlay filling, your dentist will take impressions and you will have a temporary placed. When the inlay filling is ready, it will be placed and sealed.
  6. Once your filling is in the tooth, the dentist begins to work on it so that it fits as closely as possible to your other teeth. In the process, he often uses blue paper to check the exact bite.
  7. When the dental filling or sealant has cured, you can reinsert your tooth as usual. Follow-up treatments are usually no longer necessary.

Can dental fillings cause pain?

Depending on the size and depth of the hole in the tooth that is sealed by the dental filling, extensive treatment may be necessary.

tooth filling anesthesia

Talk to your dentist about the possibility of anesthesia to prevent pain.

During this procedure, the dentist will also drill into the tooth structure to carefully remove any debris (such as tartar) and damage to the tooth.

  • If a local anesthetic is necessary during this process, there may be some slight pain (once this anesthetic wears off). However, these should subside after a short time.
  • Normally, your dentist will forewarn you when pain may occur and prescribe appropriate pain-relieving medication.

CAUTION: If you experience tooth pain for a prolonged period of time after a filling, be sure to contact your dentist.

The filling or tooth may be loose and the dentist may need to touch it up.

What to do if a dental filling has fallen out

Sometimes it happens that dental fillings fall out sooner or later after they are placed.

  • This can either be because the luting material has become brittle, or because the tooth has been otherwise affected.
  • It is very important that you see your dentist as soon as possible if a tooth filling has failed, to prevent the tooth from dying.

Depending on the depth of the hole, sensitive parts of the tooth may be exposed to bacterial infection (e.g. pulpitis)

You should avoid this at all costs to save yourself expensive root canal treatments, etc.

Note: Please do not try to make a temporary tooth filling yourself under any circumstances. Only a dentist can reliably clean holes in the tooth and provide it again with a suitable dental filling.

If the cleaning is inadequate, there is a risk that the caries bacteria will continue to spread in the tooth and lead to expensive consequential damage.

Is it advisable to have an existing dental filling replaced?

Because the topic of amalgam in particular is a constant source of debate, more and more people are wondering whether it is advisable to have an existing dental filling replaced with a new one.

amalgam filling replacement

White composite fillings look much better – however, replacement is not always recommended.

Generally, you should keep an undamaged dental filling in all cases.

  • Any procedure that would be necessary to change a dental filling is much more harmful to the body than using the previous filling.
  • Especially in the case of amalgam fillings, the reaming necessary for the change would unnecessarily release harmful substances (mercury)

Aesthetic reasons can also be decisive for the desire to replace the black fillings. Here, however, you should definitely think about whether this is really necessary.

Tip: Here you can read more about the risks of amalgam fillings.

Let your dentist advise you on any questions you may have about treatment options, risks and costs involved.

How long do dental fillings last?

Since different dental fillings are made of vastly different materials, there is no blanket answer to this question.

how long do dental fillings last?

  • Proper workmanship by your dentist is very important to the longevity of your dental filling.
  • Most of the time, however, it is the tooth, not the filling, that makes a new treatment necessary

Often this occurs at the tooth to a new caries or gum inflammation. To avoid this, you should always thoroughly care for all teeth (especially those that are more susceptible to caries).

How best to do that is explained in this comprehensive guide to general dental care tips

On the durability of amalgam fillings

Because an amalgam filling is a mixture of different heavy metals, such a filling can last forever in the tooth

But because they are used primarily in the cheek area, where there is particularly strong chewing, damage is more likely to occur there.

Generally, you can expect a lifespan of between 5-15 years – depending on the load.

On the durability of plastic fillings

Doctors give a normal plastic filling an average lifespan of 6 to 10 years.

Because the treatment and renewal of these fillings is simple, teeth filled in this way can be resealed just as effectively after being cleaned again.

On the durability of inlays (inlay fillings)

When it comes to the durability of inlay fillings, the precise fit is much more important than the material used.

  • In addition, the professional anchorage and attachment of the inlay is also crucial.
  • If the tooth changes again due to caries or tooth fracture, a new inlay filling may be necessary.

Tooth fillings avoid – so goes’s

Taking thorough care of your teeth every day is the best protection you can give your enamel.

avoid tooth filling

Well-cleaned teeth are less likely to be affected by tooth decay, and the possibility of cavities developing is significantly reduced.

Even with just a few measures, you can noticeably improve your dental care & avoid bad teeth:

Set on the appropriate toothbrush. An electric device helps by taking a lot of the work off your hands and compensating for incorrect technique to some extent.

Such devices always pay off in the long run and save you painful & expensive treatments at the dentist.

The Sonicare Flexcare Platinum regularly takes top places in tests on electric toothbrushes. It cleans teeth extremely thoroughly, preventing painful treatments at the dentist.

More tips for healthy teeth

In addition, of course, you should also clean your interdental spaces, because that is where a lot of bacteria accumulate.

clean tooth filling interdental spaces

Not least, the right toothpaste, mouthwashes and home remedies such as coconut oil round out a successful dental hygiene.


If a cavity does occur, have it treated as soon as possible.

  • Professional cleaning of the tooth and proper tooth filling can ensure that you can continue to use the tooth in question for a long time.
  • The more attentive you are with their teeth, the less likely serious diseases.

So dedicate some time to their teeth, you will not regret it.