Traditional dental restoratives, or fillings, are most often made of silver amalgam.  The strength and durability of this traditional dental material make it useful for situations where restored teeth must withstand extreme forces that result from chewing, often in the back of the mouth.

Newer dental fillings include ceramic and plastic compounds that mimic the appearance of natural teeth.  These compounds, often called composite resins, are usually used on the front teeth where a natural appearance is important, but they can also be used on the back teeth depending on the location and extent of the tooth decay.

What Filling is Right for Me?

Several factors influence the performance, durability, longevity, and expense of dental restorations, including:

The components used in the filling material
The amount of tooth structure remaining
Where and how the filling is placed
The chewing load that the tooth will have to bear
The length and number of visits needed to prepare and adjust the restored tooth

Before your treatment begins, your doctor will discuss with you all of your options and help you choose the best filling for your particular case.  In preparation for this discussion, it may be helpful to understand the two basic types of dental fillings – Direct and Indirect.

Direct Fillings are fillings placed into a prepared cavity in a single visit.  They include silver amalgam, glass ionomers, resin ionomers, and composite (resin) fillings.  The dentist prepares the tooth, places the filling, and adjusts it in one appointment.

Indirect Fillings

Indirect fillings are similar to composite or tooth-colored fillings except they are made in a dental laboratory and require two visits before being placed.  Indirect fillings are considered when not enough tooth structure remains to support a filling but the tooth is not so severely damaged that it needs a crown.