What is a filling?
A filling is a way to restore a tooth damaged by decay back to restore function and shape. The process includes removing the decay, cleaning the area and then using an appropriate material to restore.
Different Types of filling material:
Amalgam (silver-coloured): a mixture of metals including mercury, silver, tin and copper
Glass ionomer (opaque white colour): powdered glass, which reacts chemically with your tooth and bonds to it. It is beneficial because it continuously releases fluoride, therefore used to stabilise decay in adults, and used in milk teeth.
Composite (tooth coloured) resins are the most aesthetic and therefore used where a natural appearance is desired. Composites are placed directly into the cavity, and hardened with a blue light. Composites may not be the ideal material for large fillings as they may chip or wear over time. They can become stained from coffee, tea, wine and tobacco.
Porcelain indirect restorations can be inlays or onlays which are made in the lab and then bonded to the tooth. They can be colour matched to the tooth and resist staining. A porcelain restoration generally covers most of the tooth.
Gold indirect fillings (Inlays and onlays) are made to order in a laboratory and then cemented into place. Gold inlays are well tolerated by gum tissues and have good wear resistance. For these reasons, many authorities consider gold the best filling material.
Decay that has caused a cavity, or reached the nerve reversibly may be saved by a dental filling, and if necessary, through a procedure called pulp capping (which attempts to keep the nerve alive). Decay that has reached the nerve irreversibly may be treated in two ways: through root canal therapy (in which nerve damaged nerve is removed) or via extracting (removing) the tooth. If decay or a fracture has damaged a large portion of the tooth, a crown, or cap, may be recommended.