A General Overview on Fillings
Fillings are used to replace tooth structure that has been lost due to caries (cavities) or some type of trauma. For large caries lesions or large types of trauma where a significant amount of tooth structure is missing, full coverage might be indicated in the form of a crown (see the “Crown and Bridge” section for more details).
There are basically two types of filling materials that are commonly used in routine dental restorations: amalgams and resins. Amalgams are also known as “silver fillings” and have been used for well over 100 years. They have been proven to be one of the most durable restorations available. (For more on the safety of amalgam, see the “Patient Education” section). Resin, while a younger material than amalgam, has also proven to be quite durable. These are also known as “tooth-colored fillings” and are a type of plastic that is bonded or glued to the tooth.
There are advantages to each. When aesthetics are not a concern, amalgams should be considered on the molars and premolars due to the durability and longevity under biting force. Resins are also a good choice for the posterior teeth when one does not wish to have anything other than a tooth-colored filling. Resins are not as durable as amalgams, but they do blend in to the tooth to have a more natural appearance.