What are the filling types that can be used on children? | Dental Treatment Guide

A very common type of dental restoration is a filling. These can be used on the primary, milk teeth and the permanent teeth of the children. There are a number of reasons that may deem a filling necessary for your child including tooth decay, tooth damage from trauma, incorrect dental development, root canal procedures or if the tooth has undergone a significant change in colour.

Metal Fillings

Amalgam fillings are composed of a mixture of ingredients including silver. This type of filling has been utilised for over 100 years due to its numerous advantages. Firstly, amalgam fillings have a long history of proven success; this is especially true when they have been used in the back teeth (or molars). These teeth are particularly vulnerable to wearing down and trauma as they are most associated with chewing and biting. This vigorous life means that the amalgam filling, compared to other restoration techniques, is especially beneficial as it is a very strong and durable filling.

Another advantage of metal fillings is that they take less time to apply than plastic fillings do and they are also noticeably less expensive. Two particular times when metal fillings are especially advantageous are when the tooth decay is apparent between back teeth as well as when the tooth decay is more widespread and incorporates a number of teeth.

There are, however, some disadvantages associated with the use of amalgam fillings. Firstly, there is a significant level of concern that the mercury, which helps make up amalgam fillings, can cause unpleasant side effects. The risks associated with the mercury are subject to a lot of debate and so you should discuss this option with your dentist if you are unsure as to whether to allow your child to obtain an amalgam filling. Another disadvantage of amalgam fillings is that more of the natural tooth material must be removed before the filling can be positioned. This is done to ensure the filling can be held securely in place and is able to withstand the wear and tear of everyday life.

White Fillings

White fillings are often called composite fillings and are composed of a quartz-like substance, which is a very similar colour to the tooth. Before the filling is put into position, the tooth decay must be removed from the tooth and the tooth will then be cleaned so the colours match as much as possible. The white filling is applied in layers, each of which is subjected to intense light to harden it and make it strong. The filling and tooth are then polished and shaped to ensure that the result looks as natural as possible.

There are a number of advantages related to white fillings. Primarily, they are considered much more attractive than metal fillings as the colour is similar to that of the actual tooth it is being applied to. Also, white fillings do not require as much preparation and tooth matter removal as metal fillings. Not only this but any exposed grooves can be covered with a specialised sealant to prevent the spread of decay to anywhere else on the tooth.

As with metal fillings, there are also some disadvantages of white fillings that you should make note of. Firstly, white fillings are more expensive than the more traditional amalgam. This higher price is down to the material that makes up the composite fillings being more costly as well as the actual restoration procedure taking more time and effort due to its higher level of complexity. Also, if the decay in your child's mouth is from between their teeth, there is a higher chance that the decay will recur. This will mean that the filling will need to be replaced, increasing the cost further.

Sedative Fillings

In the middle of each tooth there is an area called the pulp. This is made up of nerves and blood vessels, which makes it rather sensitive. Sedative fillings tend to be used in order to lower the amount of pain that can result from any pulp inflammation or irritation. These fillings act by soothing the pulp so that it is not the source of significant pain in the future.

Sedative fillings do not require the drilling that is associated with more traditional fillings, which allows the filling to be applied directly onto the tooth. Usually, the sedative fillings are composed of eugenol or zinc oxide and generally also contain an ingredient know as clove oil. In addition, resin or glass ionomers can also be employed when using this particular type of filling.

Sedative fillings are often used in the treatment of young children as they tend to have a relatively short attention span and do not like sitting still in the dentist's chair for a long amount of time. However, as sedative fillings are just intermediate measures they tend to only be employed if a child has a tooth that has been damaged through trauma and requires prompt pain relief. Such fillings can exist for a number of years provided that your child maintains a good oral hygiene routine. Regular visits to the dentist may also be required in order to check that the filling is still in its correct position.

Further Information Childrens Dental Treatments