Fillings are very common with dental work, as they present a way to repair a tooth that has suffered from decay or a cavity back to it's original shape. When performing a filling, the dentist will remove the decayed area of the tooth, clean around it, then fill in the area that he has removed with a special material that will cater to the shape and form of the tooth.
Fillings work by closing out the area where the bacteria enters into teeth, helping to prevent any type of decay in the future. The materials used for fillings include porcelain, gold, composite resin, and amalgam. There is really no best type of filling, as several factors come into play. Your reaction to different material, the shape of the tooth, extent of repair, and where the filling is needed will be determining factors as to what material is used with your filling.
The gold fillings that are used are made in a laboratory, then cemented into place by the dentist. Gold material fits well with the gums, and can last you for many years. Gold is considered by many to be the best, although it is also the most expensive and will require you to visit the dentist several times before the filling will be complete.
Silver fillings on the other hand, are less expensive than gold materials and they can be quite resistant to wear. With their color being dark, they are easier to notice than composite or porcelain fillings, and aren't recommended for visible areas of the mouth, especially the front teeth. Composite fillings are a common type of material, as they match the color of your teeth. The material that makes up the composite filling is mixed then placed directly in the cavity, where it hardens. They last several years, although composite isn't recommended for large cavities, or areas where they may chip.
The final type of filling is porcelain. Porcelain is very common, and produced in lab where it will be matched to your teeth then bonded to the affected tooth. Porcelain fillings match the color of your teeth, and are resistant to any type of staining. The costs for porcelain fillings can be very expensive, some costing as much as gold fillings.
If a cavity, decay, or even a crack has managed to damage a large area of the tooth, you may need a crown or a cap. If the decay has managed to get to the nerve, you may end up needing a root canal to get rid of the dead pulp. When the dentist decides he can fill your tooth, he will remove the cavity then fill the hole with a material listed above. Depending on your insurance and what you can afford, you can choose which one you want or take his recommendation. In most cases, porcelain or composite fillings will be recommended. Gold fillings are popular, although most people want a filling that will match the natural color of their teeth.