White Fillings: Types, Benefits, and Procedure

If you have a decayed tooth, you may need a dental filling. Amalgam fillings used to be the most popular option, but nowadays, white fillings are becoming increasingly common for aesthetic reasons. Amalgam fillings are made of silver and other materials that are visible when you open your mouth. White fillings can match the natural tooth color and give you a beautiful smile. In this blog post, we will discuss the benefits of white fillings and why they are a pleasing alternative to silver fillings.

What are White Fillings?

White fillings, also known as tooth-colored fillings, are a type of dental filling designed to match the color of your natural teeth. This makes them virtually invisible and gives you cosmetic benefits compared to amalgam fillings. They are used to restore the appearance and function of teeth damaged by tooth decay or trauma.


There are several types of white fillings available, including:

  • Composite resin: This is the most common type of white filling. Composite white fillings are made of a blend of plastics and glass and can be matched to the natural tooth color.
  • Glass ionomer: These fillings are made from a combination of acrylic and glass powders and chemically bond to the natural tooth structure. They release fluoride, which can help prevent tooth decay.
  • Porcelain: These ceramic fillings are the most durable option. Porcelain fillings are resistant to staining and can last longer than composite resin and glass ionomer.

Benefits of White Fillings

There are many advantages to choosing porcelain and composite fillings over amalgam tooth fillings. These include:

  • Aesthetic appeal: Porcelain and composite fillings can blend in with your natural teeth, making them less noticeable when you smile or speak. This is especially beneficial for fillings in the front teeth, which are more visible.
  • Bonding to tooth structure: Unlike amalgam fillings that rely on mechanical retention, composite fillings bond directly with the tooth structure. This creates a stronger and more durable bond, reducing the risk of future damage or decay.
  • Minimally invasive: Tooth-colored fillings require less drilling and removal of healthy tooth structures compared to silver amalgam fillings. This means that the overall strength and integrity of the natural tooth structure are preserved, leading to better long-term outcomes.
  • No mercury: One of the biggest concerns with amalgam fillings is the use of mercury, a toxic substance. Tooth-colored fillings are completely free from mercury, making them a safer and healthier option for dental restorations.
  • Can be repaired: In case of damage or wear over time, white composite fillings can be easily repaired without having to replace the entire filling. This is not possible with amalgam fillings, which need to be completely removed and replaced.
  • Cures quickly: Composite materials harden through a special light, allowing them to cure quickly. This means you can resume normal activities like eating and drinking soon after the dental procedure.

How is the White Fillings Procedure Done?

The process of getting composite resin fillings is similar to amalgam fillings, with a few key differences. Here are the general steps involved:

  • Numbing: Just like with any other dental procedure, your dentist will first numb the area around the affected tooth using a local anesthetic.
  • Removal of decayed tooth structure: Your dentist will then use a drill or other instruments to remove any decayed parts of the tooth.
  • Etching: Next, your dentist will etch the surface of the tooth using an acidic gel. This creates tiny pores on the surface of the tooth that allow the filling material to bond properly.
  • Composite bonding process: A dental bonding agent is applied to the prepared tooth before filling it, ensuring a strong bond between the composite filling materials and the tooth structure.
  • Filling placement: The white filling material will then be placed in layers and hardened using a special light or chemical process.
  • Shaping and polishing: Once the filling is hardened, your dentist will shape it to fit your bite and polish it for a smooth finish.
A dentist restores a decayed tooth using white fillings (composite resin).
“Before-and-after images of white fillings procedure. The before image shows a decayed tooth, while the after image displays the tooth after decay removal and white filling placement.

Ceramic Filling Procedure

The ceramic filling procedure is an effective treatment option often recommended by a cosmetic dentist, especially for patients with extensive decay or those seeking a durable and aesthetically pleasing solution. Ceramic fillings are also known as porcelain onlay or inlay.

During the first dental appointment, the area around the affected tooth is numbed using a local anesthetic, ensuring patient comfort throughout the procedure. The dentist then removes the decayed portions of the tooth using a drill or other dental instruments. Unlike composite resin fillings, the next step involves taking an impression of the prepared tooth, which is used to create a custom-fit ceramic filling in a dental laboratory. This biocompatible option is known for its excellent fit and natural appearance, blending seamlessly with the surrounding teeth.

Once the ceramic filling is ready, during the second dental appointment, the cosmetic dentist will check its fit and color match. The tooth surface is then etched to create a suitable bonding environment. A dental bonding agent is applied, followed by the placement of the ceramic filling. This process ensures a strong and durable bond. The dentist may use a special light to cure the bonding agent, further securing the filling in place.

For teeth with extensive decay, dental crowns can also be an effective treatment option, providing additional strength and protection while maintaining a natural appearance.

Drawbacks of White Fillings

While white fillings have many advantages, there are also a few potential drawbacks that patients should be aware of. These include:

  • Post-operative sensitivity: Some patients may experience sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures after getting a white filling. This is temporary and usually resolves within a few days. However, if the sensitivity persists, it’s important to consult your dentist.
  • Staining: White fillings can stain over time, especially if you consume staining foods and drinks like coffee, tea, or red wine. Regular dental cleaning can help remove any surface stains that may occur. Porcelain fillings, on the other hand, are stain-resistant, maintaining their appearance even with the consumption of such foods and beverages.
  • Durability: Composite and glass ionomer fillings are not as durable as amalgam fillings. They may need to be replaced more frequently, especially if they’re placed on high-pressure areas like molars. Porcelain fillings, on the other hand, are highly durable and can last for many years.
  • Cost: White fillings are typically more expensive than silver fillings due to the materials and technique used. However, many patients find the aesthetic benefits well worth the extra cost. Porcelain fillings are the most expensive but also offer the best aesthetic result.

How Long Do White Fillings Last?

The lifespan of a white filling depends on various factors, such as the type of material used, the size and location of the filling, and your oral hygiene habits. On average, composite fillings can last 5-7 years, while glass ionomer fillings can last up to 5 years. Porcelain fillings, being the most durable, can last for over 10 years with proper dental care.

How Do I Care for My Dental Fillings?

White fillings can last for many years with proper care and maintenance. Here are some tips to help you take care of your white fillings:

  • Practice good oral hygiene: Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss daily to prevent plaque buildup, which can lead to decay and damage to your fillings.
  • Avoid foods that can stain: tooth-colored fillings can become discolored over time if you consume too many dark-colored foods and drinks. Limit your intake of coffee, tea, red wine, and other stain-causing foods.
  • Wear a mouthguard: If you grind or clench your teeth while sleeping, wear a custom-made mouthguard to protect your fillings from damage.
  • Visit your dentist regularly: Regular dental check-ups and professional cleanings will help your dentist monitor the condition of your white fillings and detect any potential issues early on.
  • Follow a tooth-friendly diet: Limit your consumption of sugary and acidic foods to prevent damage to your fillings and natural teeth.
  • Be gentle with your fillings: Avoid biting down on hard objects, such as ice or pens, as this can cause your tooth-colored fillings to chip or crack.

In addition to these aftercare tips, it’s important to note that white fillings may need to be replaced eventually. They are not as durable as metal fillings and may wear down over time. If you experience any pain or sensitivity in the area of your filling, visit your dentist for an evaluation. Your dentist may recommend replacing the filling if it is damaged or worn down.


White fillings are a popular and effective choice for restoring damaged or decayed teeth. They offer several advantages over traditional amalgam fillings, such as a natural appearance and minimal removal of healthy tooth structure, making them a popular option for patients seeking an aesthetically pleasing solution. Made from porcelain or composite resin material, these fillings blend seamlessly with the natural color of your teeth, providing a discreet and attractive result.

With proper dental care and good oral hygiene habits, you can ensure the longevity of your white fillings and maintain a healthy smile. Regular brushing and flossing, along with routine dental check-ups are essential in preventing recurrent decay around the fillings.

If you have any concerns or questions about tooth-colored fillings, don’t hesitate to consult your dentist for personalized advice and guidance.

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