The Differences Between Composite and Ceramic Fillings

Composite Fillings vs Ceramic Fillings

I don’t know anyone who gets excited about having a filling. It’s one of those parts of dentistry that might seem basic but, if not done correctly, can cause problems further down the line. Gone are the days of amalgam (silver) fillings, and composite fillings are now considered the gold standard by many dentists. 

But there is another type of filling that some dentists advocate as the best option, ceramic fillings. While ceramic crowns may be the best option for severely decayed, damaged, or broken teeth and have been used for many years, ceramic fillings are still a relatively new concept. If you are unsure what type of filling is best for you, read on to find out the differences between composite and ceramic fillings.

Are Ceramic Fillings Better?

Ceramic fillings, also referred to as porcelain fillings, are more expensive than composite fillings and certainly have some advantages, but are they better? 

Ceramic fillings mostly comprise porcelain, a hard substance that is more durable than composite fillings. This makes ceramic fillings less likely to be worn away or break down over time and means they can last as long as 15 years. Another advantage is porcelain is less susceptible to staining and does not become dull. 

The disadvantage of ceramic fillings is that they need to be larger than a composite filling to prevent them from cracking. Your dentist may recommend ceramic onlays or a ceramic crown rather than a filling for severely chipped or broken teeth or if the cavity is large. A ceramic onlay is also an alternative to a crown in some instances. 

Ceramic fillings also need to be made and bonded to the tooth, which means two separate dental appointments are needed. Typically when a filling is required, composite is preferred as it will preserve more of the natural tooth structure. 

What Is a Composite Filling?

Composite fillings are made from composite resin, a putty-like substance that is hardened with light once placed into the cavity. It can be mixed to match the exact colour of the tooth, making it virtually invisible when done well. The main advantage of composite fillings is that they are less likely to crack than ceramic fillings, which means the dentist can maintain more of the natural tooth. Composite resin can also be used to repair chipped teeth and reshape uneven teeth. 

Although composite fillings are less resilient to staining, they are placed with less time compared to ceramic.. The main disadvantage is they don’t last as long as ceramic fillings. Typically composite fillings last between ten and twenty years; however, they can be repaired in many cases for a minimal cost. 

Home Tooth Filling Kits

What about doing your own teeth fillings at home? You may have seen home tooth filling kits for sale and wondered if it is possible to do your own tooth filling. We urge you not to do this for several reasons. 

Firstly, if you need a filling, there is a reason you have a cavity. Occasionally it may be the tooth has cracked and is not decayed. But in the majority of cases, the cavity is caused by internal tooth decay. A common misconception is that if there is no pain, there can’t be decay. This is simply not true, teeth can decay without pain, and once the decay has started, it will continue to worsen without treatment. 

When you have a filling done by a dentist, the decay is removed and the inside of the tooth cleaned to prevent any bacteria from being left behind. The filling is then bonded to the tooth, leaving no gaps where food debris can get trapped. If you try to do your own filling, you will not be able to remove all of the decay, which means you’ll seal it inside your tooth. 

Consequently, your tooth will continue to rot until you end up with an infection or the tooth itself falls out. Or worse, you could end up with a severe infection that may compromise other healthy teeth. Far less important but still an issue is the aesthetics of a DIY filling. The material will not match your natural tooth colour, so it will be easy to see where you have done the filling. Finally, it will not last and could fall out at any point; not great on a date or in a job interview! 

Composite Fillings and Bonding

In the hands of an experienced cosmetic dentist, composite resin is an amazing material. Unlike a ceramic crown, the natural tooth does not need to be filed away. This makes composite resin an excellent filling and is a fast and relatively inexpensive way to reshape teeth and repair chips. At Smile Stories Cosmetic Dental Clinic in Bournemouth, we always aim to preserve as much of your natural teeth as possible. This is why we dedicate ourselves to high quality use of composite resin for tooth restoration and would recommend it over the use of a ceramic filling as a first port of call should a tooth chip, break or have decay in it.

How do you start? Simple! Send six simple photos of your smile to our dentists to analyse. You will then Receive your free bespoke Confident Smile Report explaining what we can do for you.

Isn’t it time to prioritise your smile confidence?



Dr Gareth Edwards BDS (Hons) MFDS RCPS (Glasg) is a Poole and Bournemouth-based dentist who qualified with honours. He has a keen interest in aesthetic dentistry and orthodontics. For more information, click here.

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