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Dental Fillings

Written by Dr. Cheng Eng Wah

Dental fillings are a type of restorative dental treatment that is used to repair tooth decay and fractures. To do this, dentists remove the decayed parts of the tooth and fill the hole with a filling material.

There are two types of dental fillings: direct and indirect. At i.Dental, we offer amalgam, composite resin and glass ionomer direct fillings as well as inlay and onlay indirect fillings. Learn more about the different types, the procedure and costs below!

  • Prevents Tooth Decays and Cavities

    Before a dental filling is done, the dentist will remove the decayed parts of your tooth. The filling material will then be placed in to seal the hole caused by the decay.

    This prevents decay progression and bacteria from building up in the cavity, removing the risk of infections and further damage.

  • Strengthens Tooth Structure

    Dental fillings will give your tooth the support it needs. By filling the cavity, the tooth structure is strengthened and this reduces the risk of breakage.

  • Improves Teeth Colour

    Tooth decay is naturally black in colour. Thus, when you have tooth decay, it may seem like you have a black tooth which may not be presentable.

    Tooth fillings, specifically composite resin and glass ionomer materials, are tooth-coloured and will help restore your teeth colour.

Direct dental fillings refer to restorations done inside the mouth during a single appointment. This is usually achievable for areas with minor decay.

i.Dental offers amalgam, composite resin and glass ionomer fillings. Each material has its unique characteristics and lifespan and is typically used for different types of cases.

Amalgam fillings, also known as silver fillings, are a combination of metals — usually mercury and either silver, zinc, tin or copper.

The chemical properties of mercury enable it to bond with other metals to form a strong amalgam.

Mainly used for:

  • Larger areas of decay
  • Areas more prone to wear such as molars

Lasts for: 10 – 15 years

Pros
  • More affordable than composite resin
  • Strong resistance to wear
Cons
  • Silver colour; more noticeable
  • Possible allergic reaction or sensitivity to mercury
  • May stain tooth over time as metals oxidise when exposed to a wet environment

Composite resin fillings are synthetic resins made of a mix of quartz, ceramic particles and acrylic resin.

These are tooth-coloured and come in different shades to allow the dentist to blend one that fits your natural tooth colour.

Additionally, it requires less enamel removal so you can preserve most of your natural tooth structure.

Mainly used for:

  • Small to moderate cavities in the front or back teeth
  • Restoration of chipped or broken teeth

Lasts for: 5 – 10 years

Pros
  • Tooth-coloured; more natural
  • Maintains most of tooth structure as minimal enamel removal is required
  • Moderate to high resistance to wear
  • Able to restore cosmetic imperfections such as chipped teeth
Cons
  • Effectiveness is highly dependent on dentist’s technique
  • Does not last as long as amalgam fillings

Glass ionomer fillings are made of silicate glass powder and acrylic. This is a tooth-coloured option that acts as a protective sealant for the tooth.

Mainly used for:

  • Small cavities near the gum line (not for chewing surfaces)

Lasts for: Up to 5 years

Pros
  • Not as technique sensitive as composite resin fillings
  • Releases fluoride over time to help prevent cavities in surrounding area
Cons
  • Low resistance to wear
  • Does not last as long as amalgam and composite resin fillings

Amalgam fillings, also known as silver fillings, are a combination of metals — usually mercury and either silver, zinc, tin or copper.

The chemical properties of mercury enable it to bond with other metals to form a strong amalgam.

Mainly used for:

  • Larger areas of decay
  • Areas more prone to wear such as molars

Lasts for: 10 – 15 years

Pros
  • More affordable than composite resin
  • Strong resistance to wear
Cons
  • Silver colour; more noticeable
  • Possible allergic reaction or sensitivity to mercury
  • May stain tooth over time as metals oxidise when exposed to a wet environment

Composite resin fillings are synthetic resins made of a mix of quartz, ceramic particles and acrylic resin.

These are tooth-coloured and come in different shades to allow the dentist to blend one that fits your natural tooth colour.

Additionally, it requires less enamel removal so you can preserve most of your natural tooth structure.

Mainly used for:

  • Small to moderate cavities in the front or back teeth
  • Restoration of chipped or broken teeth

Lasts for: 5 – 10 years

Pros
  • Tooth-coloured; more natural
  • Maintains most of tooth structure as minimal enamel removal is required
  • Moderate to high resistance to wear
  • Able to restore cosmetic imperfections such as chipped teeth
Cons
  • Effectiveness is highly dependent on dentist’s technique
  • Does not last as long as amalgam fillings

Glass ionomer fillings are made of silicate glass powder and acrylic. This is a tooth-coloured option that acts as a protective sealant for the tooth.

Mainly used for:

  • Small cavities near the gum line (not for chewing surfaces)

Lasts for: Up to 5 years

Pros
  • Not as technique sensitive as composite resin fillings
  • Releases fluoride over time to help prevent cavities in surrounding area
Cons
  • Low resistance to wear
  • Does not last as long as amalgam and composite resin fillings

Indirect fillings are constructed in a lab then placed on the tooth and cemented in place. This type of dental filling is usually used for extensive tooth decay or if the tooth structure is not strong enough to support a dental filling, but not serious enough to need a dental crown.

i.Dental provides inlays and outlays as indirect restorations. Our dentists will advise a suitable type of filling based on the extent of your tooth decay.

Inlays

Inlays are placed in between the cusps* of the tooth. This is used when cavities are concentrated in the centre of your tooth and are not as extensive yet.

Lasts for: 20 – 30 years

Onlays

Onlays are placed on top of one or more cusps. Sometimes known as partial crowns, they are used when damage is extensive and restoration is required for almost the entire chewing surface.

Lasts for: 20 – 30 years

*Cusps are elevated or raised points on the ends of teeth.

  • Step 1: Determine Location of Decay

    During your consultation, the dentist will determine the location of the decay. If necessary, an X-ray may be taken.

    From there, the dentist will be able to advise on the filling material options.

  • Step 2: Administer Anaesthetic

    Most dental fillings can be done without local anaesthesia.

    For deep cavities or hypersensitive teeth, you may be given local anaesthetic to make the treatment more comfortable.

  • Step 3: Remove Decayed Part of Tooth

    When you are ready, the dentist will remove any decayed or damaged parts of your tooth.

    A dental dam may be placed over the tooth to aid the filling procedure.

  • Step 4: Prepare The Tooth

    Next, the dentist will clean and prepare your tooth to be filled.

  • Step 5: Fill The Tooth

    Once the tooth is prepped, the dentist will place the filling on your tooth. It is then shaped to fit well and any excess will be polished away.

Price:

$74.90 - $321 per tooth

(Inclusive of GST)

Dental fillings at i.Dental Singapore cost between $74.90 to $321 per tooth (includes GST). The price varies depending on the type of material, size of cavity and complexity of the procedure.

Patients are advised to consult our dentists prior to the start of the procedure for an exact quote.

Note: Prices are not inclusive of scaling and polishing.

You may be eligible for CHAS, Merdeka Generation and Pioneer Generation subsidies for dental filling procedures.

  • Professional Dentists

    Established in 1989, i.Dental’s team of dentists has over 30 years of experience. We are committed to helping our patients achieve a healthy smile.

  • Convenient Locations

    i.Dental has 4 clinics conveniently located a short walking distance from Tanjong Pagar, Ubi and Yishun MRTs.

FAQs

You may have a cavity and need a dental filling if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Sensitivity in the teeth when taking hot or cold food and beverages
  • Toothache
  • Dark spots or stains on tooth
  • Hole(s) on tooth
  • Sharp or throbbing pain in tooth

In such cases, book an appointment with your dentist to prevent the cavity from worsening.

You are advised to consult a dentist so they can check your teeth and recommend a suitable type of filling if required.

Additionally, it is a good habit to visit the dentist regularly to treat any oncoming cavities early. This reduces the risk of developing tooth decay and prevents the need for dental fillings.

Yes! Once you have a cavity, you should get treatment as soon as possible. The damage to your tooth that is caused by decay is irreversible and will only continue to spread.

The more serious the decay is, the more complex the problem. If left untreated, the small hole may grow and cause inflammation in the dental pulp nerves. In such cases, you may require a root canal or extraction. Thus, it is best to treat a cavity as soon as possible!

Some patients may report slight but bearable discomfort when fillings are done. The pain level is dependent on your pain tolerance and extent of decay. However, it is quite rare to experience intense pain.

If you are concerned about the pain, you may opt for local anaesthetic to numb the area before the procedure is done.

FAQs

Local anaesthetic may be used before a filling is done. Thus, you may experience numbness after the procedure for 1 to 2 hours.

After the numbness wears off, you may notice the following effects:

  • Sensitivity in teeth when breathing in cold air or eating and drinking hot or cold food and beverages
  • Pain in teeth nearing the filling
  • Pain when clenching teeth
  • Pain in the filled tooth when eating, brushing or flossing
  • Tenderness in gums

These effects may last up to 2 weeks, depending on the extent of the decay.

There is no need to avoid brushing teeth after a dental filling! In fact, you need to brush your teeth as per normal. Just ensure that you brush and floss gently and carefully around the tooth.

If local anaesthetic was administered, you may feel numbness for 1 to 2 hours after the procedure. It is advised to only start eating after the numbness has subsided to prevent biting your cheek by accident.

Also, note that it is normal to experience some soreness and sensitivity for up to 2 weeks after the procedure. Some other tips to note:

  • Chew gently and slowly
  • Chew on the opposite side of where the filling was done, if possible
  • Avoid hot, cold, sweet and sticky food and beverages

Generally, this is how long each type of dental filling lasts:

  • Glass ionomer filling: 5 years
  • Composite filling: 5 – 10 years
  • Amalgam filling: 10 – 15 years
  • Inlays and onlays: 20 – 30 years

Note that the maintenance of dental fillings is as important as maintaining good oral hygiene. You are advised to schedule annual scaling and polishing appointments, brush teeth twice a day and floss once a day.

If your filling has cracked or fallen out, call your dentist immediately to get it fixed as soon as possible.

Dental fillings can last for many years, depending on the type of filling and your level of maintenance. When a filling wears out, the gap may allow bacteria to accumulate and cause another decay.

Some common signs that a dental filling needs to be replaced include:

  • You feel or notice chips and cracks in the filling
  • You experience toothaches
  • You feel sensitivity or pain when you drink sweet, cold or hot food and beverages
  • The filling has changed colour
  • The filling has fallen out
  • Food gets stuck at the location of the filling

When the above happen, schedule an appointment with your dentist to replace the filling as soon as possible.

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