When your tooth is decayed beyond the extent that it can remineralised through the use of toothpastes, gels or topical fluorides, you may need a restoration. Commonly, a tooth restoration is known as a filling.
There are many compounds and materials that have been used throughout the years as dental restoration materials with varying degrees of success and longevity. The most common materials used these days are:
Resins are long-chain polymers whose qualities as dental restorative materials have been greatly improved since their initial use in the latter half of the twentieth century. Composite resins are now the most commonly used dental restoration material. The qualities of composite resin in terms of strength and longevity are now comparable to amalgam, however, the vastly superior aesthetic aspect of composite resin makes it the material of choice in most restorative instances.
Yes amalgam is still used! And yes it is still the strongest commonly used direct filling material available. Amalgam is a very safe dental material. In instances where aesthetics is not a primary concern an amalgam filling may be indicated. Most often these days a composite resin is preferred due to the aesthetic nature of the resin and a similar life expectancy.
Glass Ionomer cements :
As the name suggests a glass ionomer cement is a cement that contains minute glass powder fragments surrounded by a mineral matrix. Glass ionomer cements are tooth coloured and have good adhesion properties to tooth surfaces.
Other restoration materials are used less frequently in selected cases.