White Fillings

Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 June 2021

 White Fillings

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What are they?

A filling replaces a part of the tooth that has been lost because of decay or damage.

Unlike silver (amalgam) fillings, white fillings stick to teeth so they can be used to repair teeth (especially front teeth) which have been chipped, broken or decayed. They can also be used for back teeth depending on the damage.

You will probably hear the dentist talk about 'composite' or 'glass ionomer' – these are different types of white filling.

What will my dentist do?

Your dentist will:

  • Normally give you a local anaesthetic to numb the area;
  • Remove any decay;
  • Remove some or all of an old filling;
  • Wash and dry the tooth by blowing water and then air into it (the dentist will be holding something which looks like a water pistol);
  • Put the filling material into or onto the tooth and shape it;
  • Harden the filling by pointing a bright light at it, inside your mouth (you will see the dentist and dental nurse protecting their eyes); and
  • Trim and polish the filling.

What are the benefits?

  • White fillings are the same colour as teeth. Dental technicians can provide a variety of shades in order to match your current teeth.
  • White fillings are sticky so they can be used to reshape and rebuild broken edges or worn teeth. They can also be used to cover marks (discolouration) if they can't be removed by cleaning.
  • A tooth needs less preparation for a white filling than for a silver filling.

White fillings are not as strong as silver fillings so they may not be suitable for large fillings in back teeth. They also need very dry conditions, which can be hard to achieve right at the back of the mouth.