A dental restoration or dental filling is a treatment to restore the function, integrity, and morphology of missing tooth structure resulting from caries or external trauma as well as to the replacement of such structure supported by dental implants. They are of two broad types: direct and indirect, and are further classified by location and size. A root canal filling, for example, is a restorative technique used to fill the space where the dental pulp normally resides.
Restoring a tooth to good form and function requires two steps: preparing the tooth for placement of restorative material or materials, and placement of these materials. The process of preparation usually involves cutting the tooth with a rotary dental handpiece and dental burrs to make space for the planned restorative materials and to remove any dental decay or portions of the tooth that are structurally unsound. If permanent restoration cannot be carried out immediately after tooth preparation, temporary restoration may be performed.
The prepared tooth, ready for placement of restorative materials, is generally called a tooth preparation. Materials used may be gold, amalgam, dental composites, glass ionomer cement, or porcelain, among others. Preparations may be intracoronal or extracoronal. Intracoronal preparations are those which serve to hold restorative material within the confines of the structure of the crown of a tooth. Examples include all classes of cavity preparations for composite or amalgam as well as those for gold and porcelain inlays. Intracoronal preparations are also made as female recipients to receive the male components of Removable partial dentures. Extracoronal preparations provide a core or base upon which restorative material will be placed to bring the tooth back into a functional and aesthetic structure. Examples include crowns and onlays, as well as veneers.
In preparing a tooth for a restoration, a number of considerations will determine the type and extent of the preparation. The most important factor to consider is decay. For the most part, the extent of the decay will define the extent of the preparation, and in turn, the subsequent method and appropriate materials for restoration.
Another consideration is unsupported tooth structure. When preparing the tooth to receive a restoration, unsupported enamel is removed to allow for a more predictable restoration. While enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, it is particularly brittle, and unsupported enamel fractures easily.
This technique involves placing a soft or malleable filling into the prepared tooth and building up the tooth. The material is then set hard and the tooth is restored. The advantage of direct restorations is that they usually set quickly and can be placed in a single procedure. The dentist has a variety of different filling options to choose from. A decision is usually made based on where the location and severity of the associated cavity. Since the material is required to set while in contact with the tooth, limited energy (heat) is passed to the tooth from the setting process.
An indirect restoration fabricated on model from Ips emax ceramic ready to be cemented on natural tooth structure. In this technique the restoration is fabricated outside of the mouth using the dental impressions of the prepared tooth. Common indirect restorations include inlays and onlays, crowns, bridges, and veneers. Usually a dental technician fabricates the indirect restoration from records the dentist has provided. The finished restoration is usually bonded permanently with a dental cement. It is often done in two separate visits to the dentist. Common indirect restorations are done using gold or ceramics.
While the indirect restoration is being prepared, a provisory/temporary restoration is sometimes used to cover the prepared tooth to help maintain the surrounding dental tissues. Removable dental prostheses (mainly dentures) are sometimes considered a form of indirect dental restoration, as they are made to replace missing teeth. There are numerous types of precision attachments (also known as combined restorations) to aid removable prosthetic attachment to teeth, including magnets, clips, hooks, and implants which may themselves be seen as a form of dental restoration.
The CEREC method is a chairside CAD/CAM restorative procedure. An optical impression of the prepared tooth is taken using a camera. Next, the specific software takes the digital picture and converts it into a 3D virtual model on the computer screen. A ceramic block that matches the tooth shade is placed in the milling machine. An all-ceramic, tooth-colored restoration is finished and ready to bond in place.
Another fabrication method is to import STL and native dental CAD files into CAD/CAM software products that guide the user through the manufacturing process. The software can select the tools, machining sequences and cutting conditions optimized for particular types of materials, such as titanium and zirconium, and for particular prostheses, such as copings and bridges. In some cases, the intricate nature of some implants requires the use of 5-axis machining methods to reach every part of the job.
Bonding is tooth-colored material used to fill in gaps or change the color of teeth. Requiring a single office visit, bonding lasts several years. Bonding is more susceptible to staining or chipping than other forms of restoration. When teeth are chipped or slightly decayed, bonded composite resins may be the material of choice. Bonding also is used as a tooth-colored filling for small cavities and broken or chipped surfaces. Additionally, it can be used to close spaces between teeth or cover the entire outside surface of a tooth to change its color and shape. Crowns, also known as caps, are used in cases where other procedures will not be effective. Crowns have the longest life expectancy of all cosmetic restorations, but are the most time consuming.
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