A dental restoration or dental filling is a dental restorative material used to restore the function, integrity and morphology of missing tooth structure. The structural loss typically results from caries or external trauma. It is also lost intentionally during tooth preparation to improve the aesthetics or the physical integrity of the intended restorative material. Dental restoration also refers to the replacement of missing tooth structure which is supported by dental implants.
Composite resin fillings (also called white fillings) are a mixture of powdered glass and plastic resin, and can be made to resemble the appearance of the natural tooth. They are strong, durable and cosmetically superior to silver or dark grey colored amalgam fillings. Composite resin fillings are usually more expensive than amalgam fillings.
Most modern composite resins are light-cured photopolymers, meaning that they harden with light exposure. They can then be polished to achieve maximum aesthetic results.
Generally, composite fillings are used to fill a carious lesion involving highly visible areas (such as the central incisors or any other teeth that can be seen when smiling) or when conservation of tooth structure is a top priority.
Dental caries, also known as tooth decay or cavity, is a disease where bacterial processes damage hard tooth structure (enamel, dentin and cementum). These tissues progressively break down, producing dental cavities (holes in the teeth). Two groups of bacteria are responsible for initiating caries, Streptococcus mutans and Lactobacilli. If left untreated, the disease can lead to pain, tooth loss, infection, and, in severe cases, death. Today, caries remains one of the most common diseases throughout the world. Cariology is the study of dental caries.
Tooth decay is caused by specific types of acid-producing bacteria which cause damage in the presence of fermentable carbohydrates such as sucrose, fructose, and glucose.
All cavities occur where carbohydrate like sugar or starch is in the food left on teeth after every meal or snack and changed to acid demineralisation of tooth by plaque bacteria.
Though more than 95% of trapped food is left packed between teeth after every meal or snack, over 80% of cavities develop inside pits and fissures in grooves on chewing surfaces where the brush cannot reach and there is no access for saliva and fluoride to neutralise acid and remineralise demineralised tooth. Few cavities occur where saliva has easy access.