Restoring Your Smile: Dental Filling Choices
Advances in modern dental materials and techniques have provided new ways to create more pleasing, natural-looking smiles. As a result, dentists and patients have several choices when it comes to selecting materials used to repair missing, worn, damaged or decayed teeth.
Traditional dental restoratives include gold, porcelain, and composite. 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.
Newer dental restoratives include ceramic and plastic compounds that mimic the appearance of natural teeth. These compounds, often called composite resins, are often used on the front teeth where a natural appearance is important. They can be used on the back teeth as well depending on the location and extent of the tooth decay. Composite resins are usually more costly than the older amalgam fillings.
What's right for me?
Several factors influence the performance, durability, longevity and expense of dental restorations. These factors include 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 and the length and number of visits needed to prepare and adjust the restored tooth.
With so many choices, how do you know what's right for you?
The ultimate decision about what to use is best determined by the patient in consultation with the dentist. Before your treatment begins, discuss the options with Dr. Urback. 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, glass ionomers, resin ionomers 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 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.