Fillings could become a part of dental history if researchers in the US are proved right.
An alternative to fillings?
Scientists may have developed a way to make teeth repair themselves.
Instead of filling teeth, dentists would just need to rebuild them, avoiding the need for uncomfortable hole drilling.
Professor Sally Marshall from the University of California in San Francisco is hoping she has found a way to stop decay in its tracks.
It involves remineralising the teeth by trying to regrow the materials from which they are made.
The enamel on the outside of the teeth and the dentin on the inside are the main components.
When the dentin is broken through by bacteria, decay begins and the sight of the dentist's drill looms.
But it is this that Marshall's work focuses on reproducing within damaged teeth.
And the next step could be growing a whole new tooth from scratch.
Dr Andrea Ubhi, who runs a dental practice in Yorkshire, told Sky News she was cautiously optimistic about the development.
"It is possible that one day dentistry will be so preventative - decay will be caught in its early stages, and these remineralisation techniques will repair the damage.
"However patients would need to be seeing their dentists very regularly, perhaps 3 monthly for these areas to be detected and treated, and in practice, not everyone will have that kind of access.
"Also, there will always be a need to replace existing fillings as they wear out." she said.
Dentists have been using fillings since the first century AD when the Roman Cornelius Celsus suggested filling a decayed tooth with lint.
Materials used to fill cavities these days include glass, resin and long-lasting amalgam.
But London dentist Dr Paul Banner told Sky News there is an easy route to a filling-free future.
"There is no need for fillings if there is no decay. Better education and awareness of diet and oral hygiene has led to increased numbers of people who will never need their teeth to be restored.
"This may be some years away and be prepared for any therapy of this type to be expensive. Much cheaper to brush, floss and eat the right foods." he said.