A filling/restoration is a way to restore damaged tooth back to its normal function and shape.Structural loss or tooth damage may be caused because of decay (caries), fracture/chipping off, grinding, abrasion etc.
In many cases, there is accompanying tooth sensitivity/pain, which gets significantly reduced or completely eliminated once an appropriate dental filling material is placed. But in some cases, depending on the extent of tooth decay or damage, the affected tooth may require additional or alternative procedures, including inlays, crowns, RCTs or extractions.
Restoring a tooth to good form and function requires two steps,
(1) removal of decayed portion and preparing the tooth for placement of restorative material and
(2) placement of restorative material or materials.
- There are several restorative materials which may be used, which include
- Temporary filling material : Done in some cases where a more permanent filling cannot be done in the same appointment.
- Silver (Amalgam) Fillings : Use of this material is highly controversial. Amalgam fillings typically have great strength and resist fracture and hence can last for 10-15yrs or more. However, presence of mercury in it has raised concerns about possible mercury toxicity. Amalgam fillings are also believed to cause/propagate micro-cracks in the tooth structure, ultimately leading the tooth to fracture (with the filling still remaining intact). In several countries, its use has been restricted or completely banned. At dentedge, amalgam fillings are not done.
- Composite (Tooth Coloured) Filling : Also termed as laser fillings. It’s the most commonly used material nowadays and ideal for restoration of front teeth as they can be made to blend in completely with the colour of your teeth.
- Newer composite materials provide great strength as well as aesthetics, and are being used for restoring posterior teeth also.
- There are several types and brands of composites. A detailed description of which is beyond the scope of this article.
- GIC : Used in children (in milk teeth), and several other cases where composites cannot be done. Are flouride releasing and help prevent further decay of teeth. May also be used below large/deep composite fillings.
- Miracle Mix/ Zirconomer : These are silver or zirconia reinforced GIC filling materials and are typically bluish and whitish in colour respectively. They provide superior strength as compared to composites and are used in posterior teeth where aesthetics are of no major concern.