4 Common Types of Restorative Dental Materials Used Today

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Restorative dentistry is a branch of dentistry that involves restoring the normal shape, size and function of teeth. Dentists that work in this lane of dentistry use various kinds of dental materials to give patients the results they are looking for. Here is a look at some dental restorative materials commonly used by today's dentists.


It is a self-hardening alloy of mercury and silver used to fill cavities (holes) that form on the surface of teeth due to tooth decay. The mixture hardens at mouth temperature to form a solid metal filling necessary to restore the normal function of the affected tooth. Filling tooth cavities is important for a number of reasons including strengthening the tooth, preventing infection and reducing tooth sensitivity. Though other filling materials are available, amalgam is preferred because it is relatively durable and less costly.


It is a glass-like material used to make inlays, onlays, veneers as well as crowns. Its glass-like properties makes it resemble the look of natural teeth, hence it is desirable for cosmetic purposes. Generally speaking, porcelain is a brittle material, which may fracture when subjected to heavy biting loads. Where extra strength is required, porcelain may be fused to a metal. The quality of bond between the tooth structure and dental restorative appliances made of porcelain depends on strength of bond to underlying metal structure.


This is a tooth-coloured mixture of glass and acrylic (plastic) used to fill teeth as well as cover conspicuous blemishes on the teeth. Like amalgam, composites harden at mouth temperatures, but they are typically preferred for non-load bearing loads because they are not as robust as amalgam. Composite is an ideal option for patients that need aesthetic improvements of the smile, especially disfigured front teeth. It is usually used to fill smaller cavities and as aesthetic veneers.


This is a plastic-based dental restorative material used for dental bonding, cementing crowns and bridges, as well as filling holes left behind by tooth cavities. Like composites, resin is desirable for non-load bearing tooth restorations, as plastic is relatively weak compared to metal alloys. 

The above discussion on dental restorative materials is not comprehensive. There are many other types of materials that can also be used for dental restoration. Material properties may vary from situation to situation based on patient-specific factors. For this reason, it is important that you consult a qualified dentist before having any restorative dental procedure performed.