What is a dental filling?
A dental filling, or tooth filling, is an outpatient procedure that treats tooth decay. Your dentist will numb your mouth and use a drill to take out the damaged part of your tooth. Then he or she fills the hollowed-out area of your tooth with a filling material.
A dental filling is generally very safe, but it does have risks and potential complications. It is only one method used to treat tooth decay. Discuss all of your options with your dentist to understand which options are right for you.
Types of dental fillings
The two most common permanent filling materials are:
Amalgam fillings, also called silver fillings, are a mixture of mercury and other metals. Dentists may use this type of filling in back teeth, or molars, because of its strength and durability. Amalgam can be placed in the front teeth, but it generally is not used in the front teeth due to a less esthetic look.
Composite fillings, also called tooth-colored fillings, can consist of a few different types of materials that include powdered glass-like particles and acrylics. Dentists can use composite fillings on any tooth. However, they may not always be used depending on the location of the filling. Composite fillings are more cosmetically pleasing than amalgam fillings because they match the tooth’s color.
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- Alternatives to Dental Amalgam. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/DentalProducts/DentalAmalgam/ucm17110....
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