Traditional dental restoratives or fillings are most often made of silver amalgam. The strength and durability of this traditional dental material makes 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. However, they can also be used on the back teeth depending on the location and extent of the tooth decay.
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 amalgam, resin ionomers, and composite (resin) fillings. The dentist prepares the tooth, places the filling, and adjusts it during a single appointment.