Fillings are the most common type of dental restoration. When your tooth suffers from dental caries (tooth decay) a simple filling can restore your tooth to health if the cavity is discovered in time. Once the decay is removed, a cavity can be filled with a variety of materials, but the two most common types are amalgam and composite (tooth colored). Amalgam fillings are the “silver fillings” that have been used by dentists for decades. Although the appearance of these fillings is typically less than desirable, the ADA still recommends amalgam as an adequate dental restoration. Amalgam fillings have the potential to last many, many years if proper care is taken.
Composite fillings are the white fillings that are much more natural in appearance. These fillings are sometimes called “bondings” since they partly rely on adhesive agents to keep the filling in place. Because of this extra step they can be slightly more technique sensitive, but they are also more versatile. Composite is more or less a resin or plastic. It can provide a more natural esthetic look to your smile, but typically does not last as long as amalgam. Another benefit of composite fillings is that often more tooth structure can be saved with a more conservation tooth preparation.