Even with proper tooth care, sometimes we can end up with small cavities in our teeth due to diet, requiring a dental filling. While proper care goes a long way towards preventing damage, there are still a number of factors that lead to untimely – and sometimes painful – cavities.
Should you have small cavities, fillings are typically the most straightforward course of action. While there are a number of materials used for filling, today we will be discussing two of the most common types: glass ionomer fillings and composite fillings.
Glass ionomer fillings
Glass ionomer fillings are typically used for:
1. Temporary fillings.
2. Decay that is located around the gumlines.
2. Baby teeth.
Additionally, the material is also used as an adhesive in orthodontic work.
Glass ionomer is essentially a flexible paste, that is used to form a tight seal between the internal tooth (exposed, due to a cavity) and the surrounding environment. It acts as a sealant, allowing the tooth to remain protected.
Glass ionomer cement is made up of silicate glass-powder and bonds directly with the tooth surface. As fluoride is part of the silicate glass-powder, glass ionomer fillings have the unique advantage of being able to slowly release fluoride over time to the surrounding area – helping prevent future cavities and protect your teeth.
There are no negative health effects associated with the use of glass ionomers. Their use is primarily due to their flexibility – they are easier to apply compared to composite fillings. Key negatives include their durability – compared to composite and amalgam fillings, glass ionomer fillings lack strength and wear resistance. Thus, in an adult mouth, they are mainly used as temporary restorations to be replaced later.
Composite fillings are fillings made of resin and other materials such as powdered glass filler. Like glass ionomer fillings, they bond to the tooth, providing additional support to the tooth that traditional fillings (e.g. amalgams) don’t offer. Composite fillings are particularly widely used because of their versatility and aesthetic appeal. Not only can composites be used for a wide range of tasks in our mouths – including chips and breakages – they can be tooth-coloured in order to blend in. For this reason, we only use composites for front teeth or other visible areas.
A key positive for composite fillings is its durability. While they are less durable than harder wearing fillings, like silver amalgams or gold fillings, composite fillings are significantly more durable than its glass ionomer counterpart. The downside being, after many years of use composite fillings can chip. Like glass ionomer fillings, regular check-ups will need to be scheduled to keep an eye on composite fillings.
Glass ionomers vs Composite Fillings: which one is right for me?
It all depends on the type of damage, and the location. Glass ionomer fillings are not typically used for extensive tooth damage. But for minor temporary dental work and work needing to be done on the root surfaces below the gumline, glass ionomers are great. Composites should be used for deeper decay, chips and worn teeth.
Keep in mind that fillings are mainly reserved for minor breakages. For anything more than 60% of the tooth, a porcelain restoration dental crown is usually recommended.
Need a dental filling or check-up?
If you are looking for a Wellington dentist, look to Naenae Dental Clinic. We can have a look at your existing fillings for damage, as well as check the health of your teeth. As leading dental care experts, we can help you achieve healthy teeth and gums, helping you smile with confidence. To book a check-up, get in touch with Naenae Dental Clinic today.