A dental filling is a procedure that helps in restoring a decayed tooth, which involves removing the decay and replacing the lost tooth structure with a filling material. Broken or fractured teeth can also be restored with dental fillings that help in regaining its original form and function. The procedure may or may not need local anesthesia and is based on the extent of the cavity. Fillings can be direct and indirect.
Direct fillings are done in a single visit. They include tooth colored composite resin material and Amalgam (metal).
Composite Resin is the most commonly used tooth colored restorative material which has exceptional esthetic properties and also improved strength. These fillings are usually done in areas where esthetics are of prime importance and the access is feasible. After cavity preparation, the tooth is etched and washed, a bonding agent is coated and is set with the help of a special light that triggers its setting process. Then the composite resin is bonded directly onto the teeth and is set in increments. Also they don’t need much tooth preparation before restoration and hence conserving the tooth structure.
Silver amalgam, although minimally used in modern dentistry , is still a material of choice in specific cases. Unlike composites, these fillings need mechanical retention to stay on the teeth, hence more tooth preparation is needed.
They are also called inlays or onlays basing on the surfaces involved. They can be tooth coloured (ceramic) or metal (gold). Since porcelain is available in various tooth-like shades, it provides better aesthetic value for the patient, hence is the most commonly used material in the current cosmetic era. Depending on individual needs and considering several factors like esthetics, accessibility and functionality, the dentist will give you options to choose from.
Indirect fillings need 2 or more visits. It involves tooth preparation after which an impression will be taken. It is then sent to the lab to get fabricated, which then will be cemented onto your teeth in consecutive visits. Meanwhile a temporary material is used to protect the prepared tooth structure.