A dental restoration or dental filling is a dental restorative material that is used to restore function, esthetics and shape of missing tooth structure that has been caused by decay or external trauma. Dental restorations (direct and indirect) may be fabricated out of a variety of materials, including composite, amalgam, gold, or porcelain.
The two most common types of direct fillings are amalgam (silver fillings) and composite (tooth colored restorations). These fillings are placed in a single visit once the cavity has been prepped. Several factors influence what type of material is utilized for the restoration. Commonly, we utilize tooth colored restorations because they are bonded directly to the tooth and they contain fluoride releasing components which can help prevent future decay. Also, they are more esthetically pleasing to the eye.
Indirect restorations, including inlays and onlays, can be fabricated at the dental laboratory and then bonded to the tooth at another appointment. These are utilized when there are other factors to consider, such as limited tooth structure and extreme forces due to chewing (such as in the back of the mouth).