Traditional dental restoratives (fillings) include tooth-colored and amalgam (silver). The strength and durability of traditional dental materials continue to make them useful for situations where restored teeth must withstand extreme forces that result from chewing, such as in the back of the mouth. Small conservative fillings can last a long time.
What's Right for Me?
Several factors influence the performance, durability, longevity and expense of dental restorations:
- the components used in the filling material
- the amount of tooth structure remaining
- 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
The ultimate decision about what to use is best determined in consultation with your doctor. Before your treatment begins, discuss the options with your doctor. To help you prepare for this discussion it is helpful to understand the two basic types of dental restorations: direct and indirect.
- Direct restorations are fillings placed immediately into a prepared cavity in a single visit. They include dental amalgam and composite (resin) fillings. The dentist prepares the tooth, places the filling, and adjusts it during one appointment.
- Indirect restorations generally require two or more visits. They include inlays, onlays, veneers, crowns, and bridges fabricated with gold, base metal alloys, ceramics, or composites. During the first visit, the dentist prepares the tooth and makes an impression of the area to be restored. The dentist then 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, the dentist cements the restoration into the prepared cavity and adjusts it as needed.