Dr. Julie D. Messerly DDS
Dental fillings replace parts of a tooth that has been damaged due to injury or decay. Also known as a dental restoration, a filling preserves the integrity of the tooth and prevents further damage from cavities.  Avoiding damage from decay or injury is preferable, but fillings are a good way to prevent the eventual loss of a tooth. Most cavities and fractures that are caught early are good candidates for restoration with fillings.

The two most common types of fillings are the silver amalgam and the tooth-colored composite.

Silver amalgam is probably the most widely known filling material.  Amalgam is made up of a mixture of silver, tin, zinc, copper, and mercury.The popularity of amalgam among dentists is due in part to its low cost as well as its strength and durability. Although they are not aesthetically pleasing, these fillings can typically last 15 years or longer. These fillings are also fairly easy to place in the tooth and there is no concern about contamination from saliva or blood.

Composite fillings (also known as resin fillings or bondings) are very popular because of the tooth-colored appearance that can be matched to the shade of your existing teeth. Your dentist, using a bright blue light (known as the curing light), which hardens the soft material, places composite fillings.   Composite fillings are becoming the most commonly used material in dental fillings. Composite fillings are made of a resin/plastic material which makes them more expensive than the silver amalgam fillings.