A dental restoration or dental filling is a dental restorative material used 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.
Restoring a tooth to good form and function requires two steps, (1) preparing the tooth for placement of restorative material or materials, and (2) placement of restorative material or materials.
The process of preparation usually involves cutting the tooth with special dental burrs, to make space for the planned restorative materials, and to remove any dental decay or portions of the tooth that are structurally unsound.
In preparing a tooth for a restoration, a number of considerations will come into play to determine the type and extent of the preparation. The most important factor to consider is decay. For the most part, the extent of the decay will define the extent of the preparation, and in turn, the subsequent method and appropriate materials for restoration.