A dentist showing a patient various options for fillings Fillings are used to repair a cavity in your tooth caused by decay. Your dentist will offer you the type of filling most appropriate for your clinical needs.

Fillings can be made of:

Amalgam (silver-coloured) – a mixture of metals including mercury, silver, tin, and copper

Composite (tooth-coloured) – powdered glass and ceramic added to a resin base

Glass Ionomer (tooth-coloured) – powdered glass, which reacts chemically with your tooth and bonds to it, but it is weak so is only used on baby (first) teeth, around the sides of teeth, or as a temporary filling

The advice given below has been published by the Department of Health following extensive research and discussion with experts in preventive dentistry and health promotion.

Dental Decay is caused by the frequency of sugar intake.
The prevention of decay can be achieved by:

  • Brushing twice daily with fluoridated toothpaste (1350ppm fluoride or above)
  • Brushing last thing at night and on one other occasion
  • Spitting out after brushing and not rinsing
  • Reducing the frequency and amount of sugary foods and drinks consumed

Pit and fissure sealants

What are sealants?

These are a painless way of protecting your children's teeth from decay. A sealant is a protective plastic coating, which is applied to the biting surfaces of the back teeth. The sealant forms a hard shield that keeps food and bacteria from getting into the tiny grooves in the teeth and causing decay.

Which teeth should be sealed?

Sealants are usually applied to the back teeth - the molars. These are the teeth that have deep grooves on their biting surfaces. Your dentist will advise which teeth should be sealed after your child has been examined. Some teeth naturally form with deep grooves that can be sealed, others with shallow ones which may not need sealing. Molars are usually sealed in children that have a high decay risk.

What is involved?

The process is quick and simple taking only a few minutes per tooth. The tooth is prepared with a special solution and dried. The liquid sealant is then applied and allowed to set hard - usually by shining a blue light onto it.

Will my child feel it?

No, it is absolutely pain-free, and the teeth feel normal afterward.

How long do they last?

Sealants usually last for many years, but your dentist will check them at your check-ups. They can wear over time, and so the dentist may need to replace some of the sealants over time.

How do they work?

The sealant forms a smooth, even, protective layer, by covering all the little grooves and dips in the surface of the tooth. Deep grooves are more prone to decay.

When should this be done?

Sealants can be applied as soon as the permanent teeth are fully erupted.

Do my children still have to clean their teeth?

Yes. The smooth, sealed surface will now be much easier to keep clean and healthy with effective tooth brushing. Always using fluoride toothpaste will also help to protect your children's teeth. Fissure sealants reduce tooth decay and the number of fillings your child might need.