A dental filling is a restoration that is specifically used to fill in an area of one or more teeth that have become decayed. Dental decay, known as a cavity, can infiltrate a tooth and cause it to become weak. Over time, the decay essentially eats into the tooth to reach the inner pulp. Before the decay is allowed to get to this point, it's removed and replaced with a tooth-colored composite resin filling.
In many cases, you won't know you have a cavity until you come in for an exam. During the exam, we use a special instrument to look for dark areas or soft spots in a tooth. X-rays further help us in identifying these trouble areas. If you have a cavity, it's recommended that it be filled sooner rather than later.