A dental restoration or dental filling is a dental restorative material used artificially 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 by restoring dental implants.
Dental restorations may be fabricated out of a variety of materials.
Dental restorations can be divided into two broad types: direct restorations and indirect restorations. All dental restorations can be further classified by their location and size.
Direct restorations are placed in the tooth in situ, while indirect restorations are created away from the tooth, traditionally prepared in a laboratory.
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 of the prepared tooth. Once a proper fit and bite is confirmed the restoration is usually bonded permanently.
While the indirect restoration is being prepared, a provisory/temporary restoration sometimes is used to cover the prepared part of the tooth, in order to maintain the occlusal space and the contact points, and insulation of the pulpal tissues and maintenance of the periodontal relationship.
Removable dental prostheses (mainly dentures) are considered by some to be 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 could be seen as a form of dental restoration.