When teeth have been damaged by disease (decay/cavities) or trauma, they need to be repaired. Fillings are the restoration of choice for minor to moderate repairs.  Larger repairs may require crown placement.  They are made of either metal (amalgam) or resin (composite).

In modern dentistry, a combination of art and science uses nature as a guide by constantly looking for materials that more closely mimic teeth in form and function.

What is the best choice?

When recommending any particular filling material for your teeth, your dentist will consider the current condition of the teeth, the size of the area to be restored, the location of the teeth involved and the bite forces (chewing, shearing, grinding, etc.) on the teeth during chewing and other normal movements of your jaw.  Also under consideration will be the strength, esthetics, cost and longevity of dental filling materials because these may vary greatly in different situations and for different patients.


The FDA cites two benefits, saying amalgam fillings are:

  • Strong and long-lasting, less likely to break than some other types of fillings
  • The least expensive type of filling material

However, FDA’s advisory panel on dental amalgam in December 2010 warned against the use of amalgam in vulnerable populations.  The mercury content in amalgam has long been a source of controversy.

Since amalgam does not bond with tooth structure, some of the healthy tooth needs to be removed because undercuts are needed to hold it in place. The amalgam is simply wedged or firmly packed into the prepared cavity in small amounts with a fair amount of pressure until it is completely filled.  Because the use of undercutting removes some of the healthy tooth, it can lead to weakening and future cracks.  Composite material doesn’t have this problem.


Commonly called white or tooth-colored fillings, today’s high quality composite resin fillings offer greater durability than ever, and are made to match the color of adjacent teeth so they blend naturally. It has properties similar to dentin, the bone-like structure beneath the enamel, but softer than bone.

The material is a safe, biocompatible acrylic, called BIS-GMA, that is hardened around glass filler particles to form composite resin. Trace metals (e.g. cobalt, gold and copper) give color to the glass, while zirconium and titanium oxides add opacity.  These fillers give the composites wear resistance and translucency, and help to strengthen teeth.

The main advantages of fillings are that they can be implemented in a single visit and that the material hardens before the patient leaves. Compared to other options, fillings are also inexpensive solutions.

If you are interested in dental fillings / amalgams / composite resin in Costa Rica, fill out the “Find a Dentist” form on this page.  One of our patient advocates will reply to your needs.