When decay forms tiny holes in the enamel of a tooth, cavities can begin to form. If left untreated, the tooth can eventually become infected; a root canal treatment may be needed, or even extraction.
While silver metal alloys were commonly used for fillings, their lack of longevity and noticeable metal color has made them less popular. The materials used were abundant and cheap but were not a perfect match for their purpose. Hot and cold foods and beverages could make them expand or contract, which would weaken the filling. The edges wear down over time and break off, and many silver alloy fillings contain mercury.
Luckily, composite fillings have made dental fillings barely noticeable. The tooth-colored material is made to match the specific hue of your tooth and allow it to blend in seamlessly. The tooth-colored composites are actually stronger than the old-fashioned metal fillings and can help in preventing future damage to the tooth. The composite material is also ideal for helping to strengthen a weak tooth that has lost its structure.
If you have previously gotten silver alloy fillings, there is a good chance they can be successfully swapped out for the stronger tooth-colored composite. Some teeth may be too damaged to be able to successfully have the filling swapped since it could weaken the tooth further.