There are two types of dental restorations: Direct and Indirect.
Direct restorations are fillings placed into a prepared cavity in a single visit.
They are usually soft and are hardened by a chemical reaction or a bright light.
Most often these fillings are made of metal or resin.
Indirect restorations (i.e.: inlays, onlays, veneers, crowns and bridges) are large and
more involved, often requiring two or more visits to complete. They can be cemented or
bonded into place, and are usually made of metal, resin or ceramic materials.
Amalgam and Composites are the most common dental material options.
Amalgam has been used as a dental filling material for more than a century.
Dental amalgam is an alloy made by combining elemental mercury with several
other metals including silver, tin, and copper. These metals form a relatively
stable alloy, which has entirely different physical and chemical properties from
mercury alone. For decades amalgam has been regarded as a safe and
reliable dental filling material. However, in recent years dental amalgam
has received some attention directed primarily at possible exposures to
trace amounts of elemental mercury that may be released from amalgam
fillings. No scientific studies have shown any link between amalgam
fillings and any ill-health effects. Organizations including the National
Institutes of Health, US Public Health Service, Center for Disease Control
and Prevention and the US Food and Drug Administration have all
supported this conclusion. Nonetheless, where there is allergy to mercury
and in instances where there may be sensitivity, patients may want to discuss
filling material options with their dentists.
Composites are mixtures of plastic resins that are normally white or “tooth-colored”.
In recent years there has been an increase in the research and development of new materials.
Your dentist will be happy to discuss the benefits of each material and can help you
make the choice that’s best for you.