When your teeth have decay the best form of treatment is to remove the part of the teeth which is having the decay and filling the affected area. There are a variety of materials used to fill teeth depending upon location of the tooth, the amount of tooth involved, cosmetic nature of the filling etc. A few fillings materials are discussed here.
One the oldest type of filling materials used, it had been the number one choice of dentists for many years. But with more and more attention being given to the cosmetic nature of tooth fillings; silver amalgam has gone down the pecking order.
Glass Ionomer Cement
The decreasing use of amalgam, has been coupled with the increasing use of Glass Ionomer Cement. Due to its tooth coloured nature more and more people are preferring it to the steel coloured nature of silver amalgam and Miracle Mix. Glass Ionomer fillings are weaker compared to composites and amalgam but is the filling of choice for children due to its ability to release fluoride which protects teeth from decay.
This filling material is obtained by mixing the powder component of GIC and silver amalgam with the Liquid component of Glass Ionomer. This combination will result in Miracle Mix which is used in all area which require high strength and durabliity. The main disadvantage is poor cosmetic appearance but its durability only surpassed by silver amlalgam it increasingly used in high stess areas like post and core.
In certain cases the decay may have reached the border of the pulp chamber and this may cause increased sensitivity to the patient. To heal the irritated pulp a temporary filling may be given to the tooth and the patient may be asked to come in after a week or ten days to get it permanently filled. The most commonly used temporary filling is Zinc – Oxide Eugenol. Others Include Calcium Hydroxide Paste and DyCal. Temporary filling are very prone to fracture and wear so care must be taken not to chew hard food on that tooth. If after a temporary filling you feel pain it is highly likely that you will need a root canal treatment on that tooth.
Tooth colored Composites are used in front teeth due to their highly cosmetic nature. Most expensive of all fillings it is a highly technique sensitive procedure when compared to all other fillings. Its main application is in chipped front teeth and also in midline diastema to close gaps. To know more about composite fillings click here.
A drill will be used on your tooth to remove the decay . Next the prepared cavity is scraped with an excavator to make sure there is not soft enamel or dentin left. If the filling is near the pulp chamber a base of Dycal may be given to protect and heal the pulp. The chosen filling material is then filled in the cavity and nicely condensed and compressed. You will be asked to bite to see if there are any high points in the filling done. Further corrections may be done till the bite is perfect and finally the filling is polished. The method of filling Composites is very different to standard filling materials and this is discussed here.
To increase the durability of your fillings you must brush twice daily and floss atleast once a day. Every six months make a visit to your dentist and review all the fillings you have. Ask them to check if the margins of the fillings are intact and the restoration has not fractured in any way.
To decide which filling is best for you is a difficult one and the best judge of that is your dentist. Dont forget to ask him about all the pros and cons of each option and make an informed decision.