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Almost everyone has had a cavity at some point in their lives, especially when they were young.  But cavities can form throughout your life. There are two types of filling material used in restoring cavities.  Silver fillings (amalgam) have traditionally been used for many years.  They are the dark fillings used on back teeth.  A tooth colored filling (composite resin) is bonded to the tooth.  They have been used for many years on front teeth.  But over the past 20 years, the materials have improved and they are being regularly used on the back teeth, too.  There are reasons one material is better than another in each individual case.  This is a decision that you and your dentist will make together.

A cavity is a hole in the tooth resulting from decay.  It usually comes from food matter, plaque, on the tooth that has not been removed.  This plaque then eats away the tooth.  A cavity can be very big or as tiny as a pinhole.  No matter the size, once a hole is there, it must be filled or will only get bigger.

Over time, the filling material can wear down and may become “leaky”, meaning that saliva and plaque seep through the edge of the filling and decay the tooth underneath the filling.  This is not unusual and happens to almost everyone.  The treatment is to remove the old filling and put in a new one.

At first, fillings may be sensitive to cold or sweets.  This is normal.  The tooth is getting used to filling material it now contains and, depending on the size of the filling, sensitivity may last 1-2 weeks.  However, if a patient complains of pain when chewing on the tooth, the doctor needs to see the patient.  The new filling may be too high, causing pain when chewing.  This is easily corrected with an appointment to adjust the filling.