Fillings do just what the name implies - seal a small hole in your tooth, i.e., a cavity, caused by decay. This prevents the decay (a bacteria-induced infection) from spreading further into your tooth and, if untreated, continuing on to the sensitive inner pulp (nerve) tissue located in the root canal. Should that happen, you would need root canal treatment.
Off late, tooth coloured fillings have gained popularity. they are of 3 types
- Composite Restorations.
- Direct Inlays.
A composite filling is a tooth coloured filling used to restore decayed teeth. They are also used for cosmetic improvements of the smile by reshaping disfigured teeth or simply changing the colour of the teeth. They provide good durability and resistance to fracture in small to mid size fillings that need to withstand moderate pressure from the constant stress of chewing. They can be used in front as well as back teeth.
Composite fillings bond to tooth structure increasing the strength of original tooth. Conservative tooth preparation: they require less drilling and therefore minimal healthy tooth structure needs to be removed for a composite restoration. Composite fillings are the most esthetic way to restore a chipped, broken or worn tooth.
Somtimes, the decay or fracture of the tooth is so extensive that a norml composite filling might not be able to regain or replicate the missing tooth structure or withstand the normal biting forces. In such cases an inlay is recommended. An inlay is customized according to the size and shape of the tooth. It is made with precision according to the margins of the existing tooth structures. A normal composite filling has the risk of shrinkage from the margins of the cavity towards the tooth. This results in leakage of saliva into the filling, thus resulting in failure of the restoration. With Inlay there is no food lodgement or shrinkage, thus making it an appropriate restorative option in cases with gross tooth destruction.
An onlay is indicated when the tooth destruction involves the mounts of the tooth. All the benefits of an inlay are present in an onlay restoration. An onlay generally allows conservation of tooth structure when the only alternative is to totally eliminate mounts and walls of restoration with a crown. It protects the weakened tooth structure without additional removal of tooth tissue. It also withstands the biting forces by distributing them evenly.