Metal Fillings

1. Dental Amalgam Fillings

Dental amalgam fillings are sometimes called "silver" fillings. They are the most common type of filling used in Canada today. Because these fillings are silver in colour, they are used to fill back teeth. They are a mix of metals such as mercury, silver, copper and tin.

- Advantages

  • These fillings are the least expensive type of filling.
  • They last a long time.
  • They are easy to put in place; because they are a direct filling, one visit to your dentist will do the job, in most cases.

- Disadvantages

  • The silver colour may not appeal to people who want a "natural" look.
  • Tiny amounts of mercury are released from the filling when you chew. For most people, this bit of mercury is nothing to worry about. Studies have shown that amalgam fillings do not cause illness. They have been used on people for more than 150 years.
  • Health Canada advises pregnant women in need of a filling to wait until the baby is born before they go ahead with the procedure. Your dentist can suggest other kinds of fillings, if the work is urgent.

2. Cast Gold Fillings

Cast gold fillings are based on a model (or cast) of your tooth. Cast gold fillings are a mixture of gold with other metals such as silver and copper. These other metals make gold fillings more durable.

A cast gold filling is made in a dental lab and sent back to your dentist, who cements it in place in your mouth. You will need at least two visits to the dentist to get the job done. During the first visit, your dentist cleans out all the decay and makes a mold of your tooth. The hole is filled with a temporary filling.

Meanwhile, in a dental lab, the mold of your tooth is used to make a model. A filling that is the same size and shape as your tooth is built, based on the model. When you go back to the dentist a couple of weeks later, the gold filling is cemented in place.

- Advantages

  • Gold is stronger than amalgam.
  • Gold fillings last a long time.

- Disadvantages

  • Gold costs more than other kinds of fillings.
  • Gold fillings and crowns are indirect fillings, so they require at least two appointments.
  • The gold colour may not appeal to people who want a "natural" look.