A filling is used to repair a tooth with decay, cracks, fractures, etc. The decayed or affected portion of the tooth is removed and then filled with a material to restore the tooth to its original shape and form.
There are many types of filling materials available, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. You and your dentist can discuss the best options for restoring your teeth. Two of the most widely used materials are composite and amalgam:
Composite fillings are tooth-coloured, and are bonded to the remaining tooth structure. They are more conservative because they require less tooth to be removed in order to place them. As well, because composite fillings are white, they are more aesthetically suited for use in front teeth or the more visible areas of the teeth. However, placing composite fillings requires the tooth to be well isolated, dry and free of saliva.
Amalgam fillings are made of a mixture of metal, and because of this, are considered very durable. However, being made of metal, they are not as esthetically pleasing. We tend to use amalgam in situations where isolation of the tooth is difficult and saliva cannot be stopped from reaching the tooth.