A dental restoration or dental filling is a dental restorative material used to restore the function, integrity and morphology of missing tooth structure. The structural loss typically results from caries or external trauma. It is also lost intentionally during tooth preparation to improve the aesthetics or the physical integrity of the intended restorative material. Dental restoration also refers to the replacement of missing tooth structure that is supported by dental implants.
Dental restorations can be divided into two broad types: direct restorations and indirect restorations. All dental restorations can be further classified by their location and size. A root canal filling is a restorative technique used to fill the space where the dental pulp normally resides.
What Steps Are Involved in Filling a Tooth?
First, the dentist will numb the area around the tooth to be worked on with a local anesthetic. Next, a drill, air abrasion instrument or laser will be used to remove the decayed area. The choice of instrument depends on the individual dentist's comfort level, training, and investment in the particular piece of dental equipment as well as location and extent of the decay.
Next, your dentist will probe or test the area during the decay removal process to determine if all the decay has been removed. Once the decay has been removed, your dentist will prepare the space for the filling by cleaning the cavity of bacteria and debris. If the decay is near the root, your dentist may first put in a liner made of glass ionomer, composite resin, or other material to protect the nerve. Generally, after the filling is in, your dentist will finish and polish it.
Several additional steps are required for tooth-colored fillings and are as follows. After your dentist has removed the decay and cleaned the area, the tooth-colored material is applied in layers. Next, a special light that "cures" or hardens each layer is applied. When the multilayering process is completed, your dentist will shape the composite material to the desired result, trim off any excess material and polish the final restoration.
Durability - lasts at least 10 to 15 years and usually outlasts composite fillings
Strength - can withstand chewing forces
Expense - is less expensive than composite fillings
Poor aesthetics - fillings don't match the color of your natural teeth
Destruction of more tooth structure - healthy parts of the tooth must often be removed to make a space large enough to hold the amalgam filling
Discoloration - amalgam fillings can create a grayish hue to the surrounding tooth structure
Cracks and fractures - although all teeth expand and contract in the presence of hot and cold liquids, which ultimately can cause the tooth to crack or fracture, amalgam material - in comparison with other filling materials-may experience a wider degree of expansion and contraction and lead to a higher incidence of cracks and fractures
Allergic reactions - a small percentage of people, approximately 1%, are allergic to the mercury present in amalgam restorations