A dental restoration or dental filling is a dental restorative material used artificially to restore the function, integrity and morphology of missing tooth structure. The structural loss typically results from caries or external trauma.
Until recently, dentists filled and sealed cavities exclusively using (a silver and mercury) amalgam. Modern dentistry has increasingly turned to composite fillings as a strong, safe and more natural looking alternative. Composite fillings utilize a soft white plastic based substance that hardens into a strong attractive material.
The major advantage of these fillings is that they come in a range of shades that closely match the color of an individual`s tooth. Due to the increased strength of modern composite material, they can now also be used in the back teeth. Unfortunately, composite fillings are 2 times more expensive than traditional restorations.
Patients may have increased sensitivity in the tooth for several weeks following the procedure. Composite fillings are porous. Over time, they may become stained from coffee, tea, tobacco, etc. Many dentists place a clear covering over the filling to avoid any future staining. Composite fillings typically last three to twelve years, depending on the location of the restoration, an individual`s occlusion (or bite), and one`s home care. Indirect porcelain inlays do not stain as easily as direct composites.
A sealant is a plastic material that is usually applied to chewing surfaces of the back teeth (pre-molars and molars). This plastic resin bonds into the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures) of the chewing surfaces of the teeth. The sealant acts as a barrier, protecting enamel from plaque and acids. Thorough brushing and flossing help remove food particles from smooth surfaces of teeth. But toothbrush bristles cannot reach all the way into the depressions and grooves to extract food and plaque. Sealants protect these vulnerable areas by “sealing out” plaque and food.
Essentially bacteria produces dental caries. Thus, caries is the most common bacterial infection in the human being. However, caries is of a multifactorial origin: genetical susceptibillity, bacterial origin, acidic environment and habits.
Caries can cause further destruction of tooth structure and tooth lose. Treating caries stops infection progression and teeth maintenance.