Teeth that have been affected by tooth decay (caries or cavities) might require a filling. There are many types of fillings, including:
Direct restorations, which require a single visit to place a filling directly into a prepared cavity. Materials used for these filings include dental amalgam, also known as silver fillings; glass ionomers; resin ionomers and some composite (resin) fillings.
- Amalgam fillings have been used for decades, and have been tested for safety and resistance to wear. Dentists have found amalgams to be safe, reliable, and effective for restorations.
- Glass ionomers are tooth-colored materials made from fine glass powders and acrylic acids. These are used in small fillings that do not have to withstand heavy pressure from chewing. Resin ionomers are made from glass with acrylic acids and acrylic resin.
Indirect restorations, which require two or more visits and include inlays, onlays, veneers, crowns and bridges. These are constructed with gold, base metal alloys, ceramics or composites. At the first visit, a dentist will prepare the tooth and make an impression of the area that will be restored. At the second visit, the dentist will place the new restoration into the prepared area.