A dental filling is a repair made to a tooth to replace a broken tooth structure or an area where a tooth has been damaged by a cavity.
Cavities are caused when the bacteria in your mouth eat the sugar from food you ingest, which creates an acid that breaks down tooth structure.
The best way to prevent needing fillings is to be careful about how often you eat sugar, and to properly brush and floss your teeth.
There are several different types of fillings available today:
Composite – These white fillings are most popular today due to their attractive appearance and ability to hide that a repair to the tooth is even present. These fillings have improved in quality over the last 20-30 years, but still rely on certain factors to provide the best long term result for your tooth. As discussed above, the tooth must be absolutely dry to provide a good seal and stick to the tooth. Composite fillings do tend to stain around the edges with time, and caution needs to taken to avoid/limit foods that stain—such as coffee, tea, and dark sodas. People who smoke tend to stain badly around these fillings. If these fillings do become stained, a portion will need to removed and then replaced. Composite fillings also do not bleach with tooth whitening products. If you bleach your teeth and notice that your fillings are more noticeable now, the color or your filling will need to be changed.
Amalgam – These fillings use one of the oldest materials available in dentistry, and are also known as a ‘silver fillings’. These fillings are particularly helpful in areas that are hard to clean as they create a very good seal. They are also useful in areas that are difficult to keep dry when the filling is placed. Other types of fillings rely on a completely dry surface to "stick" to the tooth; if you have a cavity below the gums or your gums tend to bleed heavily, an amalgam filling is a better choice for you. There are many concerns today about the mercury present in amalgam fillings – however both the ADA and the FDA state there are no restrictions related to these fillings, and they are not considered dangerous based on the best scientific evidence.
Porcelain inlays/onlays – Fillings made of porcelain tend to be strong and attractive in appearance, resisting wear when biting and chewing. These types of restorations to the teeth are best when a more significant portion of a tooth has been damaged. They may be used to replace one or more points, also known as cusps, of the teeth when they are lost to cavity or trauma.
** Our office primarily places composite fillings. We will recommend if one of the other options would provide a superior result. If you would prefer to have an amalgam filling, please advise our staff, otherwise a composite filling will most likely be provide. **