What is Dental Restoration?

Restoration is a term used in dentistry to describe restoring the function of the tooth by replacing missing or damaged tooth structure. Restorations are classified as either direct or indirect. Direct restorations are made directly inside the mouth of the patient, while indirect restorations are made outside of the patient's mouth and then placed inside.


Direct Restoration 

With a direct restoration, the restoration is fabricated or made directly inside the mouth. Examples of direct restoration would include a composite filling, amalgam filling, or stainless steel crown.


Fillings are an extremely common type of restoration in dental work. Fillings are used to replace tooth decay once it has been removed from a tooth. A filling is the most conservative way of restoring a tooth. There are several different types of fillings:

  • Silver amalgam is one of the more widely known filling material. Amalgam is made up of a mixture of silver, tin, zinc, copper, and mercury, with mercury being nearly 50% of the mixture. The popularity of amalgam among dentists is due in part to its low cost as well as its strength and durability. They are not aesthetically pleasing, but these fillings can typically last 15 years or longer. These fillings are also fairly easy to place in the tooth and there is no concern about contamination from saliva or blood. The disadvantages of this material is that it is prone to expansion and contraction and more likely to cause your tooth to crack. This fluctuation also creates open spaces between the filling and the tooth that allows food and bacteria to become trapped, enabling cavities to form. There is also the controversial mercury that is present in these fillings.
  • Composite fillings are very popular because of the tooth-colored appearance that can be matched to the shade of your existing teeth. Although they are not as durable or long lasting as its amalgam counterpart, composite fillings are becoming the most commonly used material in dental fillings. Composite fillings are made of a resin/plastic material which makes them more expensive than the silver amalgam fillings and they typically need to be replaced every 5 years, so that do not last quite as long. 

    Indirect Restoration 

    With an indirect restoration, the restoration is made outside of the mouth. Examples of indirect restorations would include a veneer, crown, bridge, implant, inlay, or onlay. Common materials used are gold, porcaline, and zirconia. 


    Dental crowns are used for a number of reasons whether it be due to loss of tooth structure, root canal treatment or cosmetic improvement of your smile. There are many different types of crowns used to restore a tooth, including gold crowns which have been used in dentistry for a number of years.