Once decay is removed from a tooth, it can be restored with material commonly referred to as a "filling." In the past, traditional dental fillings were made of different types of metals like amalgam or gold which are strong but much darker in color than your natural teeth.
Today, teeth can be restored using modern materials including ceramic and plastic compounds called composite resins that look and feel like natural teeth.
What's Right for Me?
Several factors influence the performance, durability, longevity and investment in cosmetic dental restorations:
- the material used
- the amount of tooth structure remaining after decay is removed
- where and how the tooth colored 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 type of dental fillings are best is made by you in consultation with the doctor. In general, there are two basic types of dental fillings:
- Direct dental fillings are placed immediately into a prepared cavity in a single visit. Modern materials used for direct fillings include tooth colored filling composite, glass ionomers or resin ionomers. Once the family dentist prepares the tooth, the tooth colored filling is placed and adjusted in one visit.
- Indirect dental fillings are for larger areas that need to be restored. First, the dentist prepares the tooth and takes an impression of the area to be restored. A temporary filling is placed on the tooth and the dental laboratory makes the new restoration to fit the exact space in your tooth, just like a puzzle piece. During your next visit, the temporary is removed and the new "puzzle piece" is cemented in place for a natural look and feel.
No matter the type of filling that is best for you, thanks to modern advances in dental materials, you'll have confidence in a smile that has a natural look and feel.