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. 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.
Restorations are the various ways your dentist can replace or restore missing teeth or missing parts of the tooth structure. Tooth structure can be missing due to decay, deterioration (weakening) of a previously placed restoration, or fracture of a tooth. Examples of restorations include the following:
Fillings are the most common type of dental restoration. Teeth can be filled with gold, silver amalgam, or tooth-colored plastic and glass materials called composite resin fillings.
Bridges are false teeth that are designed to "bridge" the gap created by one or more missing teeth. Bridges can be anchored on either side by crowns and cemented permanently into place.
Implants are replacement tooth roots. Implants are actually a small post made of metal (usually of titanium or a titanium mixture) that are placed into the bone socket where teeth are missing. The implant may need an attachment called an abutment that will act like a crown preparation. It is then covered with a crown.
Dentures are a removable replacement for missing teeth and surrounding tissues. They are made of acrylic resin, sometimes combined with metal attachments. Complete dentures replace all the teeth. Partial dentures are considered when some natural teeth remain, and are retained by metal clasps attached to the natural teeth.