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Affordable Dental Fillings Abroad

Dental Fillings Abroad

Louis De Grandis

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Medically Reviewed by Henry Hackney, DMD | August 17th, 2021

A filling is a standard treatment for cavities in your teeth. Your dentist uses a filling, also referred to as a direct restoration, to replace the tooth damaged by decay.

What to Expect During a Filling?

  • At the beginning of your procedure, you may be given local anesthesia to numb the area around the tooth.
  • Depending on the tooth to be treated, you may experience varying degrees of numbness.
  • Often the dentist will need to anesthetize the cheek or tongue and the tooth and surrounding tissue.
  • Then the dentist will use a dental handpiece to cut through the enamel and remove any decay.
  • After this, the dentist will shape the space to ready it for the filling.
  • For a bonded filling, your dentist will etch the tooth with an acid gel before placing the filling.
  • Etching helps to bond the filling to the tooth, ensuring it will stay in place.
  • The dentist will layer on the tooth-colored resin for certain fillings and harden it using a bright light.
  • After placement of the filling, the dentist will polish the tooth.
“After polishing, the dentist will verify if your bite is correct. They may ask you to bite repeatedly and may adjust the filling accordingly. After the anesthetic wears off, if your bite does not feel normal, it is important to return to the dentist as soon as possible as the filling may need to be adjusted. It is a very common occurrence. Pain and discomfort may develop on the tooth if the “bite” is incorrect.”
Dr. Henry Hackney, DMD

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The actual process takes 10-30 mins depending on the amount of tooth decay present. However, your mouth may be numb for a few hours afterward till the anesthetic wears off.

Types of Dental Fillings


The easiest material for a dentist to use. It is a mixture of mercury, silver, tin, or other metals.

  • Pro: It is the fastest and least expensive option.
  • Pro: These offer great strength and durability. Silver fillings last at least 10 to 15 years
  • Con: More prone to expanding and contracting on the tooth, making them more likely to cause a crack on the tooth.
  • Con: These fillings can create a grayish hue to the surrounding tooth structure.
  • Con: Healthy parts of the tooth often need to be removed to make a space large enough to hold the amalgam filling.
  • Con: They are prone to fracture when used for multi-surface fillings.

There have been concerns over the use of mercury in amalgam.

In its studies, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found no reason to limit amalgam usage.

The FDA concluded that amalgam fillings are safe for adults and children ages six and above.


Some patients find gold more pleasing to the eye than silver amalgam fillings.

  • Pro: These can last up to 15 years and are non-corrosive.
  • Pro: These can withstand chewing forces.
  • Con: Gold is costly and is more complex to handle for your dentist.
  • Con: These require more than one visit to the dentist to fit them properly.


Types of Tooth-Colored Fillings

Composite Resins

  • Pro: It can be closely matched to your tooth color.
  • Pro: If performed in aseptic conditions, it can last years.
  • Con: They are very technique sensitive.
  • Con: It can take up to 20 minutes longer than amalgam fillings to place.
  • Con: It can cost up to twice the cost of amalgam fillings.
  • Feature: Particularly well suited for use in front teeth or visible parts of teeth.
  • Feature: It can also be used to repair chipped, broken, or worn teeth.


  • Pro: Often made of porcelain, these fillings are durable and pleasing to the eye.
  • Pro: Can be used to protect brittle teeth, especially following an RCT.
  • Con: These fillings do wear down on the opposing teeth because of their rough material.
  • Con: As expensive as gold fillings.
  • Con: They require special equipment and may require dental lab support.
  • Con: You may need several dental appointments.
  • Feature: They are resistant to staining compared to composite resins.

Glass Ionomers

  • Pro: These release fluoride, which can help protect the tooth from further decay.
  • Pro: unlike composite resin, they do not require completely dry conditions for adequate bonding.
  • Con: Generally lasts five years or less with costs comparable to composite resin.
  • Con: Traditional glass ionomer does not match your tooth color as precisely as composite resin.
  • Feature: Often used for small cavities or cavities between teeth.
  • Feature: The best option for children since their teeth are still changing.
“First known dental filling material was beeswax, dating back 6500 years ago.”
Dr. Henry Hackney, DMD

What to Expect After a Filling?

Once the numbness from the anesthesia wears off, you may notice the following sensations in your mouth:

  • Sensitivity in your teeth, especially when breathing in cold air, drinking hot or cold foods or liquids.
  • Possible pain on biting. (You should inform the dentist if it does not subside in 1-2 weeks.)
  • Tenderness in your gums.
  • Pain in the teeth surrounding the filling.
  • Pain in the affected tooth when eating, brushing, or flossing.

After-Care Instructions for Fillings

If you’ve just received a cavity filling, you may want to refrain from activities, including:

  • Try not to eat or drink anything until the anesthesia has worn off.
  • Avoid consuming solid foods until 24 hours after the cavity has been filled. It will give it time to set completely and protect your tooth.
  • It is especially true for amalgam fillings, as they take 24 hours to set completely. (Composite fillings are entirely cured and bonded during placement.)
  • Do not consume foods or beverages that are extremely hot or cold.
  • Temporarily avoid acidic foods and drinks, such as citrus fruits and wine.
  • It would help to avoid sticky or hard snacks, like candy, gum, or popcorn.
  • If you have cavities filled on one side of your mouth, try chewing from the opposite side for the first few days.
  • Use desensitizing toothpaste.
  • If you experience mouth sensitivity for more than two weeks, contact your dentist.

Maintenance Tips for Dental Fillings

Here are some daily care tips that can extend the life of your fillings:

  • Restrict your consumption of sugary drinks and foods. These can cause acid to build upon your teeth and break down the filling over time.
  • Use toothpaste with fluoride.
  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day, preferably after meals. Floss once a day to keep your filling clean of debris.
  • Tips to prevent tooth decayAvoid teeth grinding. A mouth guard may help prevent you from grinding your teeth while sleeping.
  • Visit your dentist regularly. A visit every 6 months is recommended.

Dental Fillings Cost Abroad

Dental filling costs without insurance vary depending on how many fillings you need and the type of material used to fill the tooth.

Dental Fillings Prices
CountryCost in USD
New Zealand$110-185
Costa Rica$85

The average cost for a filling in the U.S. is around $200-450. Here, a composite filling on one tooth would cost you $159 and $253 if you get it done on three teeth.

The same composite filling would cost you $80 for one surface and $120 for three teeth in Mexico.

If you opt for any of the popular dental tourism destinations like Mexico, Costa Rica, or Thailand, you can end up saving half of what you would have spent in the U.S., Australia, or New Zealand.

Dental Fillings FAQs

1. How do I know if I need a filling?

Only your dentist can detect whether you have a cavity that needs a filling.

During your checkup, the dentist will use a small mirror to examine each tooth.


2. How do I know if I need a root canal or a filling?

Dental fillings are used for smaller cavities, whereas you may need root canal therapy if the tooth has more extensive damage.

Signs and symptoms of needing a root canal treatment include:

  • Constant, throbbing pain
  • Severe pain on biting/chewing
  • Tooth sensitivity to hot/cold foods or liquids
  • Swelling of the gums around the tooth
  • Tooth discoloration


3. Can dental fillings fall out?

Fillings can sometimes loosen and fall out. Don’t panic in such situations. Contact your dentist immediately.

Not seeking immediate care could result in pain, discomfort, and sometimes, even tooth loss.


 4. How long do dental fillings last?

  • Gold fillings are the most long-lasting. These can last anywhere from 15 to 30 years.
  • Silver amalgam fillings can last from 10 to 15 years.
  • Composite resin fillings need to be replaced every 5 to 7 years.


5. When to replace a cavity filling?

Tooth fillings usually last for many years but can wear out over years of chewing.

If you clench or grind your teeth, you may need to have replaced fillings sooner.

If you notice cracks or worn areas, see your dentist to have the filling replaced as soon as possible.

Continuing to chew with a damaged filling can cause the tooth to crack.

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