Fillings are done to remove decay, and replace the affected tooth structure. It is called a filling because new a material fills hole that decay left. Now days most teeth are treated with bonded tooth colored composite resin fillings.
Caught early enough, cavities can be treated easily and painlessly. If not treated, decay can lead to tooth pain and/or infection, and the tooth would need root canal treatment or extraction.
There are two types of fillings; amalgam or silver fillings, and composite or white fillings. Composite fillings are tooth-colored to blend in with the remaining natural part of the tooth. At Paul Innis, DMD, we provide both types of fillings, but find that many of our patients prefer composite fillings.
The term composite refers to the actual filling material which is a mixture of glass or quartz filler in a resin medium.
Composite fillings provide good durability and resistance to fracture in small-to-mid size restorations that need to withstand moderate chewing pressure. Less tooth structure is removed when the dentist prepares the tooth, and this may result in a smaller filling than with of an amalgam.
In addition, composites are “bonded”, or adhesively attached, to the tooth, often allowing a more conservative repair for the tooth. Composite fillings require that the tooth be kept clean and dry during the entire filling process and they are subject to stain and discoloration over time.
The life expectancy of a white filling can depend greatly on where it is in your mouth and how heavily your teeth come together when you bite.
Composite filling material is also commonly used to repair front teeth that have chipped or worn. Where possible, aesthetic bonding of composite material to front teeth is generally much less expensive than veneers or crowns. However, bonding typically does not last as long as veneers or crowns.