Fillings are required when there are signs of small to moderate tooth decay, if there is a chip or small fracture of the tooth, or when a previous older filling appears to be failing in its ability to seal and protect the tooth. Fillings are probably the most common dental procedure performed at a dental office and several can usually be completed in a single short visit.
Long gone are the days of routine placement of amalgam (silver) fillings. The newer tooth-coloured composite filling materials used in dental offices are advantageous over older metal fillings as they bond chemically to tooth structure allowing for minimal removal of healthy tissue. But the real reason they have gained in popularity is when placed on a tooth, they function and have the appearance of normal healthy tooth structure, making them invisible to an untrained eye.
It is important to treat decay at an early stage to prevent the spread of the infection within the tooth and to contain the destruction of healthy tooth structure. In cases where tooth destruction has become extensive, a simple filling may not be sufficient to restore the tooth and alternative treatment options may have to be discussed with the dentist.