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Cheap white fillings – the truth

Approx time to read: 2 mins

I wrote earlier today about white fillings. They are supposed to restore the natural beauty and strength of a damaged tooth.

But all too often they are neither beautiful nor strong…..

The problem is: amalgam fillings (the grey metal ones) are a doddle to fit. They are technique-insensitive. Because they are so forgiving, they tend to last a long time regardless of the skill of the operator (within reason).

In contrast, every step in the process of providing white fillings (from buying the right material through to polishing and finishing) is way more complex than it is for a comparable amalgam.

If you roll up a ball of cheap white filling material and squash it into a roughly prepped hole in the tooth: appointment time: 10 mins. Cost: £50.

quick and cheap white filling

The patient is ‘happy’ – they got a ‘cosmetic’ filling in 10 minutes for £50…..(the same patient is not so happy when that filling fails 2 years later and they then have to shell out £500 for a crown!).

Look at the picture of the old filling above (we removed it from a new patient): note how it is getting brown around the edges. Decay carries on merrily under the filling but nobody notices because it usually happens underneath. The result is root canal treatment if it is caught early, but extraction if not.

So here’s a picture of the Winning Smiles replacement white filling. Hard to spot the joins?

same white filling by winning smiles

Producing natural looking, strong white fillings that last for more than 10 years does take more than 10 mins and costs more than £50.

However that 10 minute white filling could cost a patient the whole tooth!


  1. Christine says

    I just got this same filling and am not happy. It looks like the before picture. The moment I got in my car I looked at it and thought it looked like someone shoved a piece of juicy fruit in my tooth! This is not a cosmetic improvement to my “silver” filling other than the color and it does to match my tooth it is yellowed! There are no ridges at all. My tooth was a bit sensitive before and more so now after the filling. Also the drilling was VERY sensitive and required repeat numbing (over 20x)What are my options? I am really upset…

    • Andrew says

      Hi Christine,

      I’m sorry to hear that your ‘white filling experience’ has not turned out as expected. My advice is to seek out the services of a cosmetic dentist in your area with a proven track record of producing quality work. Most cosmetic dentists these days have websites with their own before and afters on display for you to take a look at. This is a good indication. I would also look for someone who shows a real interest in cosmetic dentistry – most of us are affiliated to one or other of the various cosmetic dental ‘groups’ eg British Academy of Aesthetic Dentistry (BACD), British Academy of Aesthetic Dentistry and their American or European equivalents. Finally, if you walk into the practice and you like the atmosphere (helpful staff, decent premises) that is also a win. If you walk in and feel uncomfortable then you are in the wrong place. Just like restaurants!


  2. Christine says

    I guess I never thought of seeking out a cosmetic dentist, at least not until now. I figured a filling is a filling, how wrong I was! Your reply was greatly appreciated, thanks for the advice.

  3. This is my name says

    I got one of these white fillings at the right side near the back and i’m never going to eat on it because it feels like it would break off or something, doesn’t feel right so will never eat on it. Think it would of just been better if i got the tooth pulled out, at least i’d be able to eat on that side again, kind of feels like the dentist ruined my tooth 🙁

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