As we get older suddenly we realised many things we didn't appreciate about being young - being fit, having smooth skin and having all your own teeth. As our loose teeth (and bridges) struggle to deal with chewier food we start eating bland mush and, there is no easy way to say this, OLD PEOPLE FOOD. I'm determined not to let that happen to me and I'm doing everything I can to keep my own teeth as long as possible, and when that's not possible to get the best possible teeth replacement. If you are like me and want to keep on eating whatever you want, I think you'll like my site. It's all about dental health and teeth replacement & maintenance.
It's not as though you spend much time thinking about your dental fillings. Your dentist simply filled the cavity, most likely using a tooth-coloured composite resin. These restorations are designed to seamlessly blend into the tooth, making them invisible—especially when compared to the older silver amalgam fillings. No, you won't be thinking about your dental fillings until they begin to deteriorate, many years down the road, signalling the need for replacement. When your child needs a cavity filled, you might think that they will receive the same type of filling as you, but this isn't always the case.
Dental Cavities in Children
It's surprisingly common for a child to develop a dental cavity. Some 50% of Australian children will need a filling before their fifth birthday. When it comes to filling a child's cavity, a dentist tends to be less concerned about the aesthetics of the restoration and will be more inclined to add a filling that ensures the health of the tooth for as long as possible—remembering that the tooth in question will be shed and replaced.
Glass Ionomer Fillings
To fill your child's cavity, your dentist might recommend a glass ionomer filling. This restoration is also a composite, although one made of treated glass and acrylic. Glass ionomer fillings lack the strength of fillings made from composite resin or silver amalgam, meaning that they will eventually become brittle, and will crack (or detach from the tooth). They're also fairly conspicuous when compared to the tooth-coloured material used to achieve a composite resin filling. So why is your dentist recommending this type of filling material?
Ideal for Children
Glass ionomer fillings are ideal for children because the composite also contains fluoride, which is gradually released into the tooth once the filling has been applied. This helps to keep the tooth as healthy as possible, which helps to ensure that the exfoliation process (the loosening and loss of a baby tooth before the emergence of an adult tooth) is not disrupted, which can be the case if extreme deterioration (or premature loss of the tooth) occurs. The ease with which glass ionomer bonds with a tooth's structure is also an advantage, minimising the amount of preparation that's required to fill the tooth (which your child will be thankful for).
Although glass ionomer fillings will not stand the test of time, neither will the tooth the filling is being applied to. The limited lifespan of the restoration isn't a problem, since the tooth will be shed long before the filling loses its functionality. And in the meantime, the slow release fluoride contained in the filling will help to prevent any further deterioration of your child's tooth.