In the past, teeth were filled with a mixture—or amalgam—of different metals. Today that is changing as more natural-looking and metal-free fillings are becoming the preferred approach.
Dentists are using more tooth-like materials (composite resins and porcelains) that are both safe and predictable. The most important feature, for many people, is that they look and react more like natural teeth.
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. They are a good choice for people who prefer that their fillings look more natural.
Composites may cost slightly more than the old metal (amalgam) fillings and occasionally are not covered by some insurance plans. However, tooth-colored fillings are now used more often than amalgam or gold fillings, mostly 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.
Ultimately, the best dental filling is no dental filling. Prevention is the best medicine. You can dramatically decrease your risk of cavities and other dental diseases simply by:
- brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
- flossing daily
- eating a balanced diet
- visiting the dentist regularly