5 Myths About Dental Fillings You Wish You Knew

5 Myths About Dental Fillings You Wish You Knew

There are many myths about dental fillings, whether it’s fear of pain, misinformation about materials, or their lifespan. Today, we’re debunking five common myths to give you the clarity you need for your next dental visit.

What Are Dental Fillings?

Firstly, we should understand what dental fillings are and how they play a critical role in dental care. Dental fillings are a common dental treatment used to repair and restore teeth damaged by decay or injury. When a tooth develops a cavity, the decaying section must be removed to avoid additional harm and preserve the tooth’s structure and health.

After removing the decayed material, the resulting empty space must be filled to restore the tooth to its original shape and function. This is where dental fillings come into play. Fillings are made from various materials, each with its own set of advantages and applications. The most common types include:

Amalgam (Silver) Fillings

These are durable and long-lasting, often used in the back teeth where the chewing force is greatest. Despite their strength, their silver colour makes them more noticeable, which is why they’re less commonly used in highly visible areas.

Composite Resin Fillings

Composite fillings are made to match the colour of your natural teeth. They are a popular choice for front and back teeth due to their aesthetic appeal. Additionally, they bond directly to the tooth’s surface, providing good support, but may not be as durable as amalgam fillings over the long term.

Ceramic Fillings

Typically made of porcelain, these fillings are durable and aesthetically pleasing. They are resistant to staining and wear but can be more expensive than other fillings.

Glass Ionomer Fillings

These are often used for children or below the gum line. They release fluoride, which can help protect the tooth from further decay. However, they’re less durable than composite resin and more likely to wear or fracture.

The History of Dental Fillings

Dental fillings have come a long way from their humble beginnings. In ancient Slovenia, beeswax filled cavities in 6,500-year-old molars, marking humanity’s first known attempt at dental restoration. As centuries progressed, the Middle Ages saw fillings of gold, tin, and other metals. The 18th century introduced amalgam while gold foil became the material of choice in the 19th century. The 20th century heralded the era of dental composites, especially for front teeth, and evolved to serve even the molars with enhanced durability. Today, the 21st century offers a range of filling materials as listed above.

Myth 1: Fillings Last Forever

One of the biggest myths about dental fillings is that they’re suitable for lifetime use. In reality, fillings have a limited lifespan. Traditional amalgam fillings can last from 10 to 15 years, while composite fillings might need replacement every five to 10 years. The longevity of a filling can be influenced by factors like the size of the filling, its location, and your oral hygiene habits.

Myth 2: Fillings Are Painful

The thought of getting a filling can be challenging, primarily due to the fear of pain. However, advancements in dental technology and anaesthesia have made the process much more comfortable than in the past. If necessary, dentists will use a local anaesthetic to numb the area around the tooth, ensuring that you don’t feel any pain during the procedure. While you might experience some discomfort or sensitivity immediately after the anaesthesia wears off, this is usually mild and short-lived.

Myth 3: Silver Fillings Are Unsafe Due to Mercury

Amalgam fillings have been a topic of concern due to their mercury content. However, numerous studies suggest that the levels of mercury in amalgam fillings are safe for adults and children. The mercury in fillings is contained within the structure of the filling and is not released in harmful amounts.

Myth 4: You’ll Always Know When You Need a Filling

Most people believe they’ll be aware when a cavity forms and a filling is needed, often expecting pain or discomfort as a clear indicator. However, cavities can be sneaky and develop without noticeable symptoms in their early stages. That’s why regular dental check-ups are essential. Your dentist can detect cavities long before you feel anything, using tools and techniques like visual examination and x-rays. Early detection means simpler, smaller fillings and less damage to your tooth structure.

Myth 5: Fillings Are Only for Cavities

While fillings are primarily used to treat cavities, that’s not their only use. Dental fillings can also repair damaged teeth, such as cracked, broken, or excessively worn down (for example, from teeth grinding). In these cases, a filling helps restore the tooth’s shape, function, and appearance.


Understanding truths about dental fillings can simplify the process and ease any concerns. Remember, when it comes to dental health, knowledge is power – and prevention is always better than cure.

At Affinity Dental, we are dedicated to making dental care accessible and affordable for you and your family. When you choose one of our dental plans, you get access a vast network of over 2,000 skilled and professional dentists. Our benefits include mouth examinations, scale and polish, intraoral radiographs, infection control, and more. Contact Affinity Dental for helpful advice on which dental plan best suits you and your family, and visit a network Dentist for more on how to ensure your oral health.

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