Dental fillings are used to fill holes (cavities) that have formed, usually as a result of decay or tooth wear. There are many types of dental filling, each suitable for different cavities. Tooth-colored dental fillings can now be used instead of amalgam (silver) dental fillings, making them a natural-looking alternative. They are often used in teeth that show during smiling or talking. Most people have a local anesthetic injection to completely numb the area while the dental filling is being done. The decayed and weakened parts of the teeth are removed using small drills and the hole is washed. The filling material is then packed in. Tooth-colored dental fillings must be kept completely dry until they have set, so the dentist will take special precautions to keep saliva away from the area.
Tooth colored dental fillings now are harder and more durable than silver / amalgam dental fillings. A small dental filling could conceivably last your lifetime, and larger dental fillings can be expected to last many years. The factors that determine the lifespan of a particular dental filling include: the tooth (molars take more force than bicuspids), the size of the dental filling relative to the tooth (smaller dental fillings will usually be more durable than larger dental fillings), and how teeth are cleaned and maintained daily.