For many years the only available choices were metals. These are Gold alloy or “Amalgam” which a mixture of mercury, silver and other metals. In the past few decades, other materials have been developed for restoring teeth. They are “tooth colored” rather than silver-colored or gold. They include Composite resin, Glass ionomer and Porcelain materials.
Dental fillings fall into two categories based on the method used to place them: They are: Direct Restorations and Indirect Restorations
Direct restorations are fillings placed immediately into a prepared cavity in a single visit. At Houston Family Dental, we use mainly tooth colored and bonding material or composite for direct fillings. Composite is a mixture of acrylic resin and powdered glass-like particles that produce a tooth-colored filling. The type of composite material we use harden by exposure to blue light. Composite is used for fillings, inlays and veneers. Sometimes it is used to replace a portion of a broken or chipped tooth.
Composite is relatively strong, durable material, very esthetic and has law risk of leakage as it is bonded to the tooth. It also often permits preservation of as much of the tooth as possible.
Composite direct restorations have their limits when it comes to large restorations and especially in areas of heavy biting forces. Other material options will then be considered.
Indirect restorations may require two or more visits. They include inlays, onlays, veneers, crowns and bridges fabricated with Gold alloys, Porcelain or Composites.
Gold alloys contain gold, copper and other metals that result in a strong, effective filling, crown or bridge. They are primarily used for inlays, onlays, crowns and fixed bridges.
All-porcelain (ceramic) materials include porcelain, ceramic or glass-like fillings and crowns. They are used in inlays, onlays, crowns and cosmetic veneers.
The crowns may be also made of Porcelain fused to metal which add to the esthetic properties the increased durability.
During the first visit, the dentist prepares the tooth and makes an impression of the area to be treated. The impression is sent to a dental laboratory, which creates the dental restoration (filling). At the next appointment, the dentist cements the restoration to the prepared tooth and adjusts it as needed.
The fact sheet outlines the alternatives available and will help you decide on the right choice for you. The final choice is between the patient and your dentist.