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Tooth-Colored Fillings

When the cavity-causing bacteria that live in everyone’s mouth meet leftover food particles, they produce acids that can create holes in teeth. These holes are cavities. When they are small, cavities can appear as dark brown or black spots. When they get bigger, they can be actual holes in your teeth.

Placing a filling involves removing all the decayed parts of the tooth and then replacing all of the lost or removed parts. This replacement material is called a filling. Fillings can be silver or tooth-colored.

Silver Fillings

Dentists have used dental amalgam for more than 100 years because it lasts a long time and is less expensive than other cavity-filling materials.

Because of their durability, these silver-colored fillings are often the best choice for large cavities or those that occur in the back teeth where a lot of force is needed to chew. It takes less time to place an amalgam than a tooth-colored filling, so amalgam can be a good choice for patients with anxiety, special needs, or for children.

One disadvantage of amalgam is that these fillings are not natural looking, especially when the filling is near the front of the mouth, where it may show when you laugh or speak.

Tooth-colored Fillings

Composite resins, or tooth-colored fillings, provide good durability and resistance to fracture in small to mid-size fillings that need to withstand moderate pressure from the constant stress of chewing. They can be used on either front or back teeth.

It generally takes longer to place a composite filling than it does for a metal filling. That’s because composite fillings require the tooth to remain clean and dry while the cavity is filled. Tooth-colored fillings are now used more often than amalgam, probably due to cosmetics. In a society focused on a white, bright smile, people tend to want fillings that blend with the natural color of their teeth.

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