There are various types of fillings available including:
Composite Fillings – A composite resin filling is made from a mixture of plastic and fine glass particles and matches the color of the tooth. Thus, composite fillings are used most often on front teeth or the visible parts of the tooth. Composite fillings bond directly to the tooth, reducing the drilling needed (like for a amalgam filling) and they are stronger than amalgam fillings.
Amalgam Fillings – Amalgam fillings are made from a mixture of metals including mercury and silver, and thus doesn’t match the color of your teeth. This type of filling is used most often for fillings in the back teeth. These fillings are very strong and usually last at least ten years if not longer.
Gold Fillings – Gold fillings are made from gold allow which is extremely durable. This type of filling lasts longer than any other type. Gold fillings do not match the natural color of your teeth and are expensive, they usually cost six to ten times more than amalgam.
Ceramic Fillings – Ceramic fillings are made of porcelain and are tooth colored, so they look natural. Ceramic fillings are more brittle than composite resin and can break but they are also more resistant to staining. Ceramic fillings are expensive, and can cost as much or more than gold fillings.
Glass Ionomer – Glass Ionomer fillings are made from acrylic and fluoroaluminosilicate, a component of glass. This type of filling is very strong and most often used in people with a lot of decay in the part of the tooth that extends below the gum. It is also used for filling baby teeth.
To help minimize the pain associated with getting a filling, your dentist may choose to administer a local anesthetic, like Lidocaine. Next, your dentist will remove decay from the tooth, using a drill or laser.
Once all the decay is removed, your dentist will shape the space to prepare it for the filling. Different types of fillings require different shaping procedures to make sure they will stay in place. Your dentist may put in a base or a liner inside the tooth to protect the tooth’s pulp (where the nerves are).
Certain types of fillings get hardened by a special light. With these fillings, your dentist will layer the material, stopping several times to shine a bright light on the resin. This cures (hardens) the material and makes it strong.
Finally, after the filling is placed, your dentist will use burs to finish and polish the tooth surface.