If cavities are found before there has been significant decay, the tooth can be restored with a filling.
Once a tooth has a cavity, the decay will continue to spread unless the decayed area is removed and the tooth is properly restored. Leaving cavities untreated can lead to the need for more significant restorative procedures such as crowns, bridges, root canals, or dental implants.
While metal (amalgam) fillings used to be common, tooth-colored composite material is now the most recommended filling material. The composite material blends in with the natural tooth and is less noticeable than a metal filling. The tooth-colored filling is not as affected by heat and cold as the metal fillings, so the patient is less likely to experience temperature-related sensitivity.
Another important reason composite fillings have replaced amalgam fillings is that they do not use mercury, which was present in metal fillings. Many patients are choosing to have their older amalgam fillings replaced with tooth-colored fillings for this reason.