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Different Types of Dental Fillings: Learn Here

A close up of a woman's mouth

Do you need a new dental filling? Maybe you’re getting a filling for the first time ever? Today, there are several types of dental fillings available. Dr. Bestandji and the Canal Vista Family Dental team in Princeton, NJ, are here to provide you with all the information you need to make the right choice for your oral health.

From traditional silver (amalgam) fillings to composite resin options and even lab-made fillings like inlays and onlays, each one serves a unique purpose. 

Why Do I Need a Filling?

Dental fillings are commonly used to repair the damage caused by tooth decay and rebuild that area of your tooth. When plaque and bacteria accumulate on your enamel, they produce acids that erode right through it, creating small holes or cavities. If left untreated, these cavities can progress and cause more significant damage to your tooth structure.

Getting a dental filling is essential for several reasons:

  • Preventing Tooth Decay Progression: Filling a cavity in its early stages can halt the progression of decay and save your tooth from further damage.
  • Restoration of Tooth Function: Fillings restore the tooth’s functionality by repairing the physical damage and enabling you to chew comfortably again.
  • Pain Relief: Cavities sometimes cause toothaches and sensitivity. Fillings can alleviate the discomfort associated with dental decay by protecting the sensitive inner layers of your tooth. 
  • Cosmetic Enhancement: Modern dental fillings are designed to match the color of your natural teeth, ensuring a seamless and aesthetically pleasing restoration that blends in with your smile.
  • Prevention of Infection: Untreated cavities can lead to painful infections like abscesses, which typically require more extensive dental procedures like root canal therapy or an extraction. Fillings help prevent such complications by stopping cavities in their tracks. 

Can I Get a Filling Instead of a Crown?

It’s not uncommon for our patients to wonder if a filling can be used to repair their tooth instead of getting a crown. The choice between a filling and a crown depends on the extent of the tooth’s structural damage.

Dental Fillings:

  • Ideal for small to moderate-sized cavities.
  • Preserve more of your natural tooth structure.
  • Less invasive and quicker to complete.
  • Suitable for restoring various surfaces and repairing minor damage.
  • Can be completed in one appointment. 

Dental Crowns:

  • Recommended for more extensive tooth damage, such as large cavities or fractures.
  • Cover the entire visible portion of the tooth.
  • Provide added strength and protection.
  • Offer long-lasting durability.
  • Usually require two appointments to complete. 

Dr. Bestandji will assess your specific situation and recommend the most appropriate treatment. In some cases, a filling may be sufficient, while in others, a crown may be necessary to ensure the long-term health and function of your tooth. We will recommend the best option on a case-by-case basis for your specific tooth.

Types of Dental Fillings in Princeton, NJ

When it comes to dental fillings in Princeton, we have several materials available to choose from, each with its own set of advantages. Here are three common types of dental fillings used today:

Composite Fillings:

  • Made of a tooth-colored resin material that matches the shade of your natural teeth.
  • They are versatile and can be used for both front and back teeth.
  • Composite fillings bond directly to the tooth, which often requires less removal of healthy tooth structure than amalgam fillings (making them minimally-invasive)
  • They are a popular choice for cosmetic restorations.
  • Appropriate for all ages and teeth. 

Amalgam Fillings:

  • Composed of a mixture of metals, including silver, tin, copper, and mercury.
  • Amalgam fillings are highly durable and can withstand significant chewing forces.
  • They are cost-effective and have been used in dentistry for decades.
  • Can be placed when it’s difficult to isolate a tooth and keep it dry during the procedure. 

Temporary Fillings:

  • Temporary fillings are typically used as a short-term solution, such as after a root canal when the final crown is being prepared.
  • They are not as durable as composite or amalgam fillings and are designed to provide temporary protection.
  • Temporary fillings can be easily “buy you time” but need to be replaced with a permanent filling or crown.

Lab-Made Fillings: Inlays and Onlays

In addition to traditional fillings, there are also lab-made fillings, known as inlays and onlays, which offer a more extensive and customized approach to restoring teeth. These indirect fillings offer a middle-ground alternative between traditional fillings and full-coverage crowns. 


  • Inlays are used when the damage to a tooth is too extensive for a regular filling but not extensive enough to require a crown.
  • They are custom-made in a dental laboratory to precisely fit inside the tooth, filling in a larger area than a traditional filling. 
  • Inlays are typically crafted from materials like porcelain or gold; ceramic options can be color-matched to your natural teeth for a seamless appearance.
  • They provide excellent durability and strength while conserving as much healthy tooth structure as possible.


  • Onlays are similar to inlays but cover a larger portion of the tooth.
  • They are an excellent choice when the damage extends to one or more cusps of the biting edges of your tooth.
  • Onlays are custom-made to fit the specific shape and size of the cavity.
  • They offer superior strength and protection while preserving more of the natural tooth compared to traditional crowns.

Schedule Your Consultation Today

Whether you need a routine dental filling, are considering a crown, or require a more specialized inlay or onlay, Dr. Bestandji and the dedicated team at Canal Vista Family Dental in Princeton, NJ, are here to provide you with the highest quality dental care.

Your oral health is our priority, and we strive to offer you personalized solutions that suit your needs and preferences.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to us to schedule your consultation today! We’ll assess your dental condition, discuss your options, and work together to create a treatment plan that ensures your smile stays healthy, beautiful, and functional for years to come. At Canal Vista Family Dental, we’re committed to delivering the exceptional dental care you deserve.

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