When a tooth gets a cavity, the decay must be removed or it will progress to the center of the tooth where the infection can spread to other parts of the body. After it is removed a filling material is used to replace the missing tooth structure. The most common filling materials are amalgam (silver), composite (white plastic), gold and porcelain.
Gold fillings are known for their strength and durability. Because they are not tooth colored, they are usually only used on back teeth. A gold filling is done in two appointments.
Amalgam (silver) is another very strong and durable filling option. Over time, amalgam can cause the tooth to become slightly darker so this filling is usually reserved for the back teeth. Although questions have risen about the safety of amalgam, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, World Health Organization, and several other health organizations in the U.S. around the world consider amalgam to be a safe, affordable and effective dental filling material. For more information on dental amalgam, please visit www.ada.org and search “amalgam.”
Composite is a tooth colored material that is often used in cosmetic dentistry to make your teeth look like they did before the cavities. It does not darken your tooth over time, however, the bond between the composite and your tooth can break down over time so it is important that you continue to see your dentist every six months to make sure your filling is intact and well bonded to your tooth.
Porcelain fillings are tooth colored like composite but they are much stronger and more resistant to premature wearing down. Like gold, they are done in two appointments.
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