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Newer dental restorative materials include ceramic and plastic compounds that mimic the look of natural teeth. They are also called composite resins and are usually used on your front teeth where a natural appearance is important and on the back teeth depending on the location and how far the tooth decay has progressed. 

Silver amalgam or traditional dental restoratives or fillings may be recommended to replace over time if the Dentist sees breakage between the tooth and filling or it is at risk of fracturing from factors such as grinding/clenching/ deteriorating older filling. Your Dentist may recommend replacing it with a crown, porcelain onlay or inlay, or a composite resin. 

What’s right for me?

Dental treatment is recommended based on performance, durability, longevity, and type of dental restoration required; 

  • The components used in the filling material is important 

  • The amount of actual tooth structure remaining 

  • Where and how the filling will be placed 

  • The chewing or grinding/clenching load that the tooth will have to bear 

  • The length and number of visits required to prepare and adjust the restored tooth

Before your treatment begins, your doctor will educate and discuss with you all of your treatment options and help you choose the best option for your particular case. It's important to understand two basic types of dental fillings; 

  • Direct fillings are completed in one appointment.  They include composite (resin) fillings, glass ionomers, and resin ionomers. The dentist prepares the tooth, places the filling, and adjusts it in one appointment.


  • Indirect fillings generally require two or more visits with your Dentist. They include inlays, onlays, and veneers fabricated with base metal alloys, ceramics, or composites. When a tooth has too much damage to support a filling but not enough to necessitate a crown these are recommended. The dentist first prepares the tooth and does a digital scan for it to be restored. The dentist then places a temporary covering over the prepared tooth until the material is ready for placement. The digital scan is then sent to a dental laboratory, which creates the dental restoration for your tooth. At the next appointment, the dentist cements the restoration into the prepared cavity and adjusts it as needed for a proper fit. 

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