Newer dental fillings include ceramic and plastic compounds that mimic the appearance of natural teeth. These compounds, often called composite resins, are usually used on the front teeth where a natural appearance is important, 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 the tooth will have to bear
- The length and number of visits needed to prepare and adjust the restored tooth
Before your treatment begins, one of our doctors will discuss with you all 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 glass ionomers, resin ionomers, and composite (resin) fillings. The dentist prepares the tooth, places the filling, and adjusts it in one appointment.
- Indirect fillings generally require two or more visits. They include inlays, onlays, and veneers fabricated with gold, base metal alloys, ceramics, or composites. They are used when a tooth has too much damage to support a filling but not enough to necessitate a crown. During the first visit, the dentist prepares the tooth and makes a scan of the area to be restored. Then the dentist places a temporary covering over the prepared tooth. The scan 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.