When cavities from decay begin to form in your teeth it is important that they be treated with fillings as soon as possible. Untreated cavities compromise the strength of your teeth, making chips and severe breaks much more likely. Additionally, since the surface of the tooth has been penetrated by decay, cavities can lead to severe infections to the interior of your tooth, which eventually may lead to a root canal. There are several options available for treating cavities.
The most traditional, proven method for treating a cavity is by using an amalgam (silver-mercury based) filling. Although there have been some health concerns due to toxicity of mercury there has been no conclusive evidence that amalgams pose any threat when used in dentistry. Today they continue to be popular for durability and they are the best choice for larger cavities that must endure the stresses of heavy chewing.
One option to treat a cavity is a composite resin filling. This method is preferred by many because the color of the filling can be matched to the natural shade of tooth, making them less visible. They provide significant strength to the restoration. At one time it was though they were best used on small to mid sized cavities that endure moderate chewing pressure. But today there are new composite materials that provide strong reliable restorative qualities even on molars. Also there is less drilling required so more of the natural tooth can be preserved.
Ionomer fillings are made from glass particle mixed with acrylic acids. They are tooth-colored to match your natural teeth. Ionomer fillings are fragile, which is why they are only implemented on very small cavities or on tooth roots.