In the past, fillings were all made of metal amalgam (silver fillings). They appeared as silver embedded within the tooth. There were no other choices for patients. Now, tooth colored fillings may be used as a direct restoration in one visit or as an inlay or onlay made from porcelain or reinforced resin by a lab. These are more pleasing to most patients, as the filling looks like part of the tooth and is not obvious like the metal ones.
A direct restoration may be a composite or filled resin. These are used for a “traditional” filling. Small to medium cavities on the chewing surfaces of the teeth that require smaller fillings are treated with these. The composites are bonded to the prepared tooth. Composites take slightly longer to place than amalgam, but the esthetic results are more pleasing. These materials can stain over time, but overall they look like the natural tooth, preserve more of the original tooth, reduce the risk of allergic reaction to the materials used, and there is no risk of developing metal sensitivity to the fillings.