The Facts on Fillings
Whether your child needs an existing filling replaced or a new cavity filled, get the facts on what your options are. Gone are the days when silver amalgams were your only choice. With dental care advancements, other materials are also being used to fill cavities. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of the two most common filling materials.
Our dentists at ABC Kids Dental Group often recommend composite resin or tooth color fillings. These fillings are generally strong and resistant to the daily pressures that a tooth may be subjected to, making it an ideal material for this purpose.
When Are Fillings Necessary?
During the dental exam, your child’s dentist may identify cavities. The digital x-rays used in our office, along with a tooth-by-tooth exam with a dental explorer (dental tool) can help uncover areas of decay. As long as the decay is not too large, in which case it would need a root canal, the tooth can be restored with a simple composite filling.
What Are the Different Options For Direct Fillings?
For the most part, there are two types of direct dental fillings that are done in our pediatric dental clinics. These are either composite (white fillings) or amalgam (silver fillings). While amalgam fillings are often stronger, composite fillings are more aesthetically pleasing.
Silver Amalgam Fillings
Dental amalgam has been used to fill cavities for more than 150 years. Also known as "silver fillings", it contains a mixture of metals — consisting of liquid mercury and a powdered alloy. Amalgam fillings have proved the test of time due to their durability, strength and affordability. Silver fillings will last at least 10 years and can withstand chewing forces.
Although amalgam has been used for years, there are both structural and cosmetic disadvantages to this type of filling. The process of creating and fitting an amalgam filling often forces the dentist to remove healthy parts of the tooth. Amalgam fillings will also expand and contract with temperatures in your child’s mouth, which over time can result in the filling pulling away from the tooth. Additionally, silver fillings will not match the color of natural teeth and can create discoloration of the tooth surrounding the filling.
Composite Resin Fillings
If aesthetics is your primary concern for your child, composite resin fillings are ideal. At ABC Kids Dental Group, our experienced dentists can blend multiple shades to create a color that is almost identical to that of natural teeth. Composite resin fillings are made of a plastic and glass mixture and can be used for both small and large fillings.
Not only will they match your child’s natural teeth color, but also, they bond directly to the teeth making them stronger. They also require less drilling than amalgam fillings and can be used with some other materials to provide the perfect filling for your child’s tooth cavity. Similar to glass ionomer, composite resin fillings will only last about five years. Additionally, the composite may shrink when placed on the tooth, which can lead to gaps between the tooth and filling, a potential hazard for more cavities.
Now that you know the facts, you will be prepared to discuss the options with our dentists at ABC Kids Dental Group. Of course, your dentist is your most valuable resource when selecting which filling material to proceed with. Based on the location and extent of the decay, he or she will determine what is best for you.
Why Choose Tooth Colored Fillings?
Composite, or tooth colored fillings, match the color and physical appearance of our natural teeth closely and is preferred by most dentists for restorations made in aesthetic areas. They are also used successfully on molars or other chewing surfaces, as long as the fillings are relatively small. For larger fillings, or those that go in between the teeth (interproximal decay), silver fillings may be recommended. However, for the most part, both types of filling materials, be it composite or amalgam, can be used to restore teeth that have been affected by decay.
How Are White Fillings Placed Inside Teeth?
Before placing any fillings, children are made to feel comfortable in the dental setting. Sometimes this is achieved by using nitrous oxide. The tooth affected is made numb using a local anesthetic, and the decay is removed. The preparation in the tooth is then exposed to acid etch and a resin bonding material before the composite is placed into the tooth. Once the filling is in place, a blue light is placed on the filling, making it hard. Finally, adjustments are made so that the child is comfortable biting.
Does It Hurt to Get Fillings?
After the initial process of making the child numb, the child no longer feels pain while getting a filling placed. Nevertheless, throughout the preparation process, the child may feel the cold water that is sprayed on the tooth and may also feel pressure. Overall, the process is completed fairly quickly and is mostly painless. After the filling is placed, it is common for some children to experience sensitivity on the tooth. This sensitivity could last up to two weeks, but it dies down with time.
How Do You Take Care of Composite, Tooth Colored Fillings?
After having the fillings placed, it is very important for children to maintain good oral habits by brushing and flossing two times a day. This way they can prevent recurrent decay from happening and can keep their fillings strong.
Does My Child Need A Filling If They Have A Cavity in A Baby Tooth?
Yes, it is recommended to treat baby tooth cavities as soon as possible. If the decay is extensive, the bacteria in a cavity can cause a dental abscess which can spread and affect the developing adult tooth beneath the gum line.
For more information on white fillings and when to get them, call us today at 833-i-ABC-Kid (833-522-2543) or visit one of our offices. We currently have office locations in Pacoima, Sun Valley and Granada Hills.