If you have a cavity, the decayed part of your tooth must be removed and that area restored with a filling. Fillings are also used to repair broken or cracked teeth, and teeth that are worn down from misuse. The techniques dentists use for fillings have improved with modern advances, and there are more options to create appealing smiles. As a result, you have several choices for tooth repair. Consult your dentist for recommendations about the best type of filling for you.
Dental amalgam, or metal fillings, has been used for over a century. This material is strong and durable, and can withstand biting force. It is especially useful in back molars where chewing is demanding. Amalgam is usually the least expensive restorative material. Many patients don’t like this type of filling however because of its silver color, making it more noticeable in your smile. There are also concerns about the low levels of mercury in amalgam, with opinions varying about whether or not it poses health risks to patients.
Matched to the existing teeth’s color, plastic or white fillings have become popular. These composite fillings are ideal in areas of moderate chewing pressure, and often require removal of less tooth structure than other materials. There is little risk of leakage when bonded to enamel. Composite fillings sometimes wear out more easily than amalgam fillings in areas of heavy biting force, so ask your dentist if this material is durable enough for your specific tooth’s location.