Dental restorations or fillings are routinely done to replace tooth structure damaged by dental decay. The dentist will diagnose dental decay or cavities that are new or around old restorations both visually and radiographically (x-rays). Dental filings can include silver, white bonded or composite restorations), crowns, inlays, onlays or veneers.
Depending on the situation and the patients preference a decision can be made on the type of restoration used. Cost, insurance coverage, tooth position, and amount of damage can influence the type of restoration used.
A silver filling is dental amalgam. These fillings are still considered safe and are very durable. More often a white filling is used. These fillings are bonded to the tooth and are very cosmetic.
A crown or cap can be used when the tooth requires protection due to excessive restoration or likelihood of fracture.
An inlay or onlay is replacement of part of the tooth that has been broken or destroyed by a cavity. This type of restoration is more expensive and complex than a filling but is very strong and durable.
A veneer is usually used on the front teeth to cover up stain or change the shape of a tooth. A veneer is a thin porcelain facing that is bonded to the front surface of a tooth.