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Cavity filling types: Get to know your options

Cavities are one of the last things you want to have when you visit the dentist. These pesky holes in your teeth are one of the consequences of poor oral health. It can be both painful and inconvenient, and can end up costing quite a bit of money if you don’t have dental insurance. Especially in comparison to the cost of daily brushing and flossing, which could keep cavities at bay.

In this Pacific Prime Thailand article, we’ll look into the different cavity filling types so you know what your options are.

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What is a cavity filling?

A cavity, which is also known as caries or tooth decay, occurs when damage in your tooth’s hard surface turns into a hole. It is usually caused by the buildup of bacteria as a result of bad oral hygiene and eating unhealthy food.

Since symptoms are usually evident once a cavity is more developed, it can be difficult to detect until it is too late. Some of the common signs of a cavity include:

  • Sensitive teeth
  • Tooth pain, which often occurs for no apparent reason
  • Visible openings or holes in your teeth
  • Moderate pain when chewing or drinking
  • Discoloration of the tooth’s surface (white, brown, or black)

If you have any of these symptoms, it’s advisable to visit your dentist as soon as possible to find out if you have a cavity that needs filling.

A cavity filling describes the procedure where the dentist fills the opening in your tooth with some type of material. The goal is to eliminate your symptoms and fix the appearance of your tooth at the same time.

Types of cavity fillings

Many people assume that there is just one type of cavity filling, when in fact there are several options available – each of which has their unique pros and cons. The types of cavity fillings include amalgam (a composite of silver, mercury, and various metals), composite, metals, glass ionomer, and ceramic. The best cavity fillings for you will largely depend on the cost, your dental insurance cover, and how you want your teeth to look.


Amalgam has been a popular option used by dentists for over a century. It also happens to be the most researched cavity filling material. Due to their strength, amalgam fillings are suitable for filling teeth that are used for chewing, such as the molars. Since these types of fillings are made of several different metallic elements, they are more noticeable when you smile or laugh. They are also the most affordable type of filling.


Often referred to as filled resins or composites, composite fillings are made from a combination of quartz or glass filler. This type of filling can be made to blend in with your tooth’s natural color. Additionally, they are quite durable and are suitable for small-to-medium-size restorations in moderate chewing areas.


Silver and gold amalgam are the most common metal types for cavity fillings. However, gold fillings usually cost much more than silver fillings, though some people still choose them for aesthetic reasons. While the appearance of metal fillings deters some people from getting them, the fact that they can last up to 15 years before needing to be replaced makes them more appealing.

Glass ionomer

Made from a combination of glass and acrylic, this kind of filling releases fluoride to protect your teeth. With that said, glass ionomer cavity fillings are less durable than the other options and may only last up to five years.


A ceramic cavity filling, which is typically made of porcelain, is the same color as your tooth. It is less prone to staining than composite cavity fillings. However, ceramic fillings can cost as much as gold cavity fillings.

When should you replace a cavity filling?

Depending on the material, tooth fillings will generally last for many years before you need to get them replaced. But chewing is the main factor that affects how long they will last. If you often grind or clench your teeth, then you may have to replace your fillings sooner.

If you notice cracks, worn areas, or other signs of wear on your fillings, make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. Chewing with a damaged filling can lead to a cracked tooth, which will need more costly and complicated repair than a straightforward filling. If the area around a filling continues to decay, regardless of the condition of the filling, your dentist may opt for a crown instead of an additional filling.

How much does it cost to get or replace a filling?

The cost of fillings without dental insurance can vary depending on the type of material used and the number of fillings required. The starting price for dental filling costs in Thailand is usually around THB ฿1,000 for composite material. However, they can go up to anywhere from THB ฿10,000 to THB ฿16,000, such as if you need a gold inlay, which is used for when the cavity is too big for a regular filling.

It’s always a good idea to shop around and find out how much dental work will cost before choosing which dentist to go to. If you have dental insurance in Thailand or international dental insurance, you should ask your insurance agent or broker if they have a list of approved dental clinics.

Looking for dental insurance in Thailand?

Pacific Prime Thailand is a reputable insurance broker that can help you find the best dental plan for your unique requirements and budget. Whether you’re looking for private health insurance or group health insurance, Pacific Prime is happy to help. Contact us to receive expert advice, get a free quote, or a plan comparison today.

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Content Creator at Pacific Prime Thailand
Jantra Jacobs is a content writer at Pacific Prime. On a typical work day, she writes and edits articles, guides and anything else word-related. She aims to produce content that is easy for readers to understand and enjoyable at the same time.

When she’s not writing, she’s likely searching for a new restaurant or cafe to try, reading or doing yoga.