A filling is a way to restore a tooth damaged by decay back to its normal function and shape. When the dentist gives you a filling, he or she first removes the decayed tooth material, cleans the affected area, and then fills the cleaned out cavity with a filling material. By closing off spaces where bacteria can enter, a filling also helps prevent further decay. Materials used for fillings include amalgam (an alloy of mercury and silver) and composite resin (tooth-colored fillings).

No one type of filling is best for everyone. What’s right will be determined by the extent of the repair and where in the mouth the filling is needed. Considerations for different materials include:Amalgam (silver) fillings are resistant to wear. However, due to their dark color, they are more noticeable than porcelain or composite restorations and are not usually used recently.

Composite (plastic) resins are matched to be the same color as your teeth and therefore used where a natural appearance is desired.