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You've just gone to the dentist for your check up and the dentist tells you, you need a filling! You are not alone. Most people will need at least one filling in their lifetime. What exactly does that mean? A filling is a treatment for tooth damaged by decay that restores back to its normal function and shape while preventing further decay. It's also the one of the most common procedures that takes place in the dental office, so there's no need to worry, especially if you are maintaining a good brushing and flossing routine! How Do I Know if I Need a Filling? Your dentist will use a small mirror to examine the surfaces of each tooth, and anything that looks abnormal such as discoloration, is sensitive to temperature changes or defective, will be closely checked and X-rayed. The treatment will depend on the extent of damage and the type of filling you agree on. Which Type of Filling is Best? The right type of tooth filling for you will depend on the extent of the repair, any allergies to filling materials, the location of the cavity and the cost. Gold fillings are made to order and then cemented into place. Gold inlays are well tolerated by gum tissues and might last more than 20 years. It's often the most expensive choice and requires multiple visits. Amalgam (silver) fillings are resistant to wear and relatively inexpensive, says the ADA. Due to their dark color, they aren't the best choice for highly visible areas. Composite resins look more natural because they're matched to the color of your teeth. Composites are less durable and can become stained just like teeth, so they don't last as long as other types of fillings. However, they do better in smaller fillings. Porcelain fillings, called inlays or onlays, are made custom in a lab and then bonded to your tooth. They're matched to your tooth color and resist staining. A porcelain restoration generally covers most of the tooth. Their cost is similar to gold.