Composite filling can be an alternative to amalgam filling. They are made of a plastic material mixed with small glass particles and are tooth coloured, rather than silver. They are suitable for repairing both the front and the back teeth.

After preparing the tooth, your dentist will place layers of the composite filling into the area to be repaired. Each layer of the composite material is hardened by exposure to a special light.

Once the cavity or defect is filled, your dentist can trim the composite to fit the tooth and then polish it to reduce discolouration or staining.

Advantage of composite fillings

  • Composite fillings are more attractive than amalgam fillings.
  • Teeth filled with composite material tend to be stronger, as it bonds to the surrounding tooth, while a tooth filled with amalgam may sometimes be weaker.
  • Composite filling can be fitted into very small holes, so less drilling is needed in preparation for the fillings.
  • These types of fillings can help insulate the tooth from major temperature changes.
  • Amalgam filling (Top) can be replaced by composite fillings (bottom).

Disadvantage of composite fillings

  • Composite filling take slightly longer to place than amalgam, and the technique your dentist uses is more complex.
  • Composite are usually more expensive than amalgam.
  • If used in larger cavities, composite fillings can wear out sooner the amalgam fillings. However, this may not occur if they are used in smaller cavities.
  • A tooth filled with composite material may be sensitive for a time after the procedure.
  • Some foods and drinks can stain composite fillings.

Inlays & Onlays


Inlays are fillings that were traditionally made of gold but now are often made of porcelain, ceramic or composite material. They are used to repair moderately damaged back teeth to withstand the grinding pressures of these teeth.

Inlays are glued into place and are contained within the cusp tips of the tooth. Special glue is used to increase the strength of the bond.


Made of the same materials as inlays. An onlay is more extensive repair that covers the tooth cusps.

The first visit involves removing the old filling or the decayed area and preparing the surface for the new filling. Am impression is made of the area and sent to the dental laboratory so the inlay or onlay can be constructed. A temporary cover or filling is applied until the next visit.

At the second visit, the temporary cover of filling is removed and the new inlay or onlay is fitted. Your dentist will ensure that it is a perfect fit and does not interfere with your bite. It is then bonded into place with powerful glue and polished.

Inlays are used to repair moderately damaged back teeth and need to be extremely strong. An onlay is a more extensive repair that covers the tooth cusps.

Advantage of Inlays and Onlays

  • Strength in one of the major advantages of the inlays and onlays, but because inlays and onlays are bonded directly into tooth, they can increase the overall strength of the tooth.
  • Porcelains, ceramics and composite material can be made in colours to match natural teeth.
  • They are durable and may last 10 years or more, unless the get decay under them.
  • In some cases, they are a good alternative to the more complex crown.

Disadvantage of inlays and onlays

  • Inlays and onlays can be costly due to the high-quality materials used in their manufacture and the precision required in their fitting.
  • They require removal of tooth material.

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