A dental restoration or dental filling is a dental restorative material used artificially to restore the function, integrity and morphology of missing tooth structure. The structural loss typically results from caries or external trauma. Dental restorations may be fabricated out of a variety of materials:
Dental Amalgam is a commonly used dental filling that has been used for over 150 years. It is a mixture of mercury with at least one other metal. Amalgam has many advantages over other restorative material, such as low cost, strength, durability, and bacteriostatic effects.
Amalgam is used in dentistry for a number of reasons. It is relatively easy to use and manipulate during placement; it remains soft for a short time so it can be packed to fill any irregular volume, and then forms a hard compound. Amalgam possesses greater longevity than other direct restorative materials, such as composite. On average, most amalgam restorations serve for 10 to 12 years, whereas resin based composites serve for about half that time. However, with recent improvements in composite material science and a better understanding of the technique-sensitivity of placement, it should be noted that this difference is decreasing.
There are circumstances in which composite (white fillings) serves better than amalgam; when amalgam is not indicated, or when a more conservative preparation would be beneficial, composite is the recommended restorative material. These situations would include small occlusal restorations, in which amalgam would require the removal of a sounder tooth structure, as well as in “enamel sites beyond the height of contour.”
The American Dental Association Council on Scientific Affairs has concluded that both amalgam and composite materials are considered safe and effective for tooth restoration.
Bonded composites can be used as a restorative procedure for teeth that are chipped, cracked, discolored or misarranged.
How does it work?
The tooth is prepared for the procedure by lightly etching the surface and applying a bonding liquid. Once the liquid sets, a plastic resin is applied and sculpted into the desired shape by the dentist. Once set, the resin is trimmed, smoothed and polished to a natural appearance.
The bonding procedure can often be completed in a single office visit and can significantly improve the appearance of a tooth. However, since the plastic resin used is not as strong as your natural tooth enamel, it is more likely to stain, chip or break than natural teeth. Bonding will periodically need to be replaced or repaired.
There are many advantages to tooth colored restorations. Resin onlays are bonded to the teeth creating a tight, superior fit to the natural tooth. Such restorations can be used in instances where much of the tooth structure has been lost. The tooth remains intact and stronger.
Since the resin used in tooth colored restorations contain fluoride this can help prevent decay. The resin wears like natural teeth and does not require placement at the gum line, which is healthier for your gums!