Because we all want a natural looking smile, we only use tooth coloured fillings in this practice. There are two types of white fillings – glass ionomer and composite. Both of these filling materials can be used to replace part of a tooth that has been damaged by decay or through accidental damage. Composites can also be used to build up teeth or to close gaps to give you a better smile.
Composite fillings are more difficult to place and take longer to complete than silver fillings but the advantages are that you have a filling that matches your tooth and white fillings are mercury free.
Glass ionomer fillings have been around for some time and have gradually been improved.
We mainly use them for temporary or semi-permanent fillings and in children for fillings in primary (baby) teeth. They are useful for more permanent restorations in older patients where the filling involves the root of the tooth and where moisture control is a problem.
The advantages of glass ionomer fillings are that they are white, they stick to the tooth without any bonding (glueing) agents and they release fluoride which helps stop any further decay under the filling.
The disadvantages of glass ionomer cements are that they are not as strong as composite or amalgam fillings and tend to look rather opaque.
Until relatively recently composite filling materials were only used in front teeth and non-biting surfaces of back teeth. They were not considered strong enough to use on biting surfaces of back teeth and they did not show up on x-rays making it difficult for the dentist to tell when there was decay under an existing filling.
Modern composite filling materials are now much stronger and can be used on biting surfaces of back teeth and show up clearly on x-rays. They are made in different shades that can be matched very accurately to make them almost ‘invisible’ against your natural tooth.
The advantages of composite fillings, apart from them being tooth coloured, are that they can be bonded (glued) onto natural teeth and less tooth needs to be removed compared with conventional amalgam fillings. Teeth can often be built up and their shape changed with little or no preparation (drilling) at all.
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