A dental filling is a dental restorative material used to restore oral health. Your dentist uses the tooth filling procedure to strengthen teeth or to simply restore general function. The most common use of fillings is to fill a cavity in the tooth with a tooth decay filling. But fillings also can be used to repair damage to teeth caused by teeth grinding (bruxism), to replace part of a broken tooth with a broken tooth filling or as a temporary tooth filling.
Many options are available for tooth fillings, and all of them have their pros and cons. Types of fillings include gold, silver amalgam (a composite of mercury, silver and other metals), tooth-colored composite material, porcelain, and a special type of glass. Tooth filling cost will depend upon what your insurance may cover and your aesthetic preference. The two most common types of tooth fillings are amalgam and composite fillings. Your dentist can even make your fillings look like your natural teeth.
Tooth cavity fillings or cavity dental fillings usually last for many years before they need to be replaced. But tooth fillings can wear out over years of chewing. If you clench or grind your teeth, you may need to have tooth fillings replaced sooner.
If you notice signs of wear on your tooth fillings, such as cracks or worn areas, see your dentist to have the filling replaced as soon as possible. Continuing to chew with a damaged filling can cause the tooth to crack and require additional repair that is more expensive and more complicated than a simple cavity filling. If additional tooth decay develops around a filling, whether or not the filling is damaged, your dentists may choose to repair the tooth with a crown instead of a second cavity filling.