If a cavity (tooth decay) is very small, it's often referred to as incipient decay. These tiny cavities may not need to be restored right away and can be monitored with frequent dental checkups and X-rays as needed. When incipient decay is present, the patient should also incorporate a diet low in sugar, combined with excellent oral hygiene. However, when a cavity reaches a certain size, it will need to be removed and cleaned quickly, followed by the placement of an immediate restoration.
A white-colored filling, or a composite resin, can be an ideal solution. Composites are durable and highly esthetic. They allow the clinician to stay very conservative during the restorative process when compared to other types of fillings, such as silver or amalgam. This is a great way to preserve tooth structure and prevent future breakdown of the enamel over time, thus increasing the tooth's longevity.
Again, if active decay is discovered, it's important to address it immediately in order to prevent future sensitivity, pain or even infection. Early intervention will avoid more major restorative treatment like crowns, root canals or extractions.
Composite restorations can also repair chipped or worn teeth. Composite bondings are used for esthetic solutions for anterior teeth as well. Some white-colored fillings are even placed along the gumline when abfractions (tooth wear at the gumline) or gum recession is present.