Traditional dental restoratives, or fillings, were most often made of silver amalgam. The strength and durability of this traditional dental material made it useful for situations where restored teeth had to withstand extreme forces that result from chewing, often in the back of the mouth.
Newer dental fillings include ceramic and plastic compounds that mimic the appearance of natural teeth. These compounds, often called composite resins, are usually applied to the front teeth where a natural appearance is desirable, but they can also be used on the back teeth depending on the location and extent of the tooth decay.
What's right for me?
Several factors influence the performance, durability, longevity, and expense of dental restorations, including:
- The components used in the filling material
- The amount of remaining tooth structure
- Where and how the filling is placed
- The chewing load that the tooth will have to bear
- The length and number of visits needed to prepare and adjust the restored tooth
Before your treatment begins, Dr. Day will discuss with you all of your options and help you choose the best filling for your particular case. In preparation for this discussion, it may be helpful to understand the two basic types of dental fillings — direct and indirect.
- Direct fillings are placed into a prepared cavity during a single visit. They include silver amalgam, glass ionomers, resin ionomers, and composite (resin) fillings. The dentist prepares the tooth, places the filling, and adjusts it in one appointment.
- Indirect fillings may be done in one visit with CAD/CAM technology or might require two visits. They include inlays, onlays, and veneers fabricated with gold, base metal alloys, ceramics, or composites. They are used when a tooth has sustained too much damage to support a filling but not enough to necessitate a crown. During the first visit, Dr. Day prepares the tooth and makes an impression of the area to be restored. Then she places a temporary covering over the prepared tooth. The impression is sent to a dental laboratory, which creates the dental restoration. At the next appointment, Dr. Day cements the restoration into the prepared cavity and adjusts it as needed. If CAD/CAM technology is used, an indirect filling may be completed in one visit.