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A cavity is a hole that develops in a tooth when the acid produced by bacteria eats away the minerals faster than the tooth can repair it. There are no symptoms of a cavity until the tooth has decayed to the point where it develops an infection. When this occurs, the tooth will develop a sharp pain known as a toothache.

The most common approach to treat a cavity is to fill it with fillings. This is a substance that fills in the tooth and prevents bacteria from entering the tooth. A tooth that becomes infected will gradually wear away and fall out. However, a filling will prevent the bacteria from infecting the inside.

The cavity must then be cleaned to create space for the filling. After the dentist fills the tooth, he or she must polish and try to match the original tooth shape. This helps to ensure the patient has a comfortable and natural mouth closure.

There is a wide variety of materials used for filling cavities and they vary in strength and color. The two most common types are amalgam and composite.

  • Amalgam fillings - Amalgam fillings are strong and are therefore ideal for filling cavities in the back of the mouth such as in the molars, where chewing takes place.
  • Composite fillings - These fillings feature a combination of glass or quartz filler and can be made to match the color of your tooth. Composite fillings are also fairly durable and are ideal for small-to-mid-size restorations in areas of your mouth that perform moderate chewing.
  • Ceramic - A ceramic cavity filling (usually made of porcelain) is tooth-colored, and it may be less likely to show tooth stains over time than a composite cavity filling.