Teeth decay is probably the most common problem experienced by people when it comes to their oral cavity. Sensitivity, mild pain, food lodgment are some of the symptoms you might experience if you have a cavity which is shallow. A shallow cavity is to be treated by dental fillings. Dental fillings are constantly evolving and changing, keeping up with new discoveries and modifications. Other than the treatment of the decayed tooth, fillings are also done for cracked or broken teeth, or teeth that have been worn down over time.
Listed down below are the few most commonly used filling materials.
Amalgam is an alloy mainly silver and mercury with traces of copper, tin etc. It is commonly known as a ‘silver filling’ and is one of the oldest used filling materials. Because of its high strength and durability, it is often used a choice filling in posterior teeth. It is less expensive when compared to other ‘tooth coloured’ fillings.
The main drawback of an amalgam filling is that it is not aesthetically pleasing. The silver colour of the filling makes it stand out and hence it is not used in areas where aesthetics are of concern i.e., your front teeth. The mercury content of the filling might be alarming to most of you, as mercury is a known toxic material. But when mixed with other metals it is considered safe to use. The main advantage of an amalgam filling is that it has a long service life, maintains the basic structure of the tooth and is cheaper than other dental fillings.
This is how a tooth looks after amalgam filling :
GLASS IONOMER CEMENT (GIC):
Glass Ionomer Cement (GIC) is a tooth coloured cement and is one of the most popular cement in dentistry. Since it is tooth coloured, it can be used for filling any cavities in the front teeth. It is the most preferred dental cement when dealing with baby teeth. The most fascinating fact about GIC is that it contains fluoride. This content of fluoride essentially makes it an ‘ANTI-CARIOGENIC’ cement- meaning, it prevents any further tooth decay.
This cement basically requires minimal cavity preparation and forms a chemical bond to the teeth in teeth. GIC, being a tooth coloured dental cement, is used in small cavities in the front teeth as it has a cosmetic appeal. Although the strength of a GIC cement isn’t comparable to that of an amalgam filling, recent modifications to GIC has compensated for some of their deficiencies. Resin-modified GIC is a modified GIC cement, which is aesthetically more appealing and is more resistant to fracture than the conventional GIC. This is how a tooth looks after GIC filling :
COMPOSITE RESIN CEMENT:
The composite resin cement is the most aesthetically appealing dental cement in the field. It comes in a wide range of shades, so getting an exact match to your natural teeth is relatively easy. Although it is more expensive than an amalgam or a GIC cement, the patient satisfaction with the results are higher in the case of composite resins. The main disadvantage of composite resin cement is that it is vulnerable to staining. So, a number of foods and beverages are to be avoided if you are looking to get a composite resin cement filled, especially in the front teeth. This is how a tooth looks after composite filling :
Most dental filling procedures feature the following:
- Local anesthesia to numb the area of treatment (if needed)
- Removal of the infection ( decay) from the affected teeth
- Tooth restoration using any of the filling material above
- Bite check to make sure your teeth align comfortably
EATING TIPS AFTER A FILLING:
- Eat slowly and lightly: A fresh filling might come out if you bite down the food too hard. It is best to chew from the other side of the mouth to prevent any forceful contact.
- Avoid sticky foods: few fillings, especially amalgam, takes a little longer than other dental cement, to set completely. It can dislodge a new filling, so it is best to avoid it for a while.
Avoid nuts, hard candy: Biting down at the site of fresh filling on nuts or any other hard foods can dislodge the filling, or worse, even fracture it. No matter how greater the strength of the filling, it is no match for your natural teeth. Avoid chewing hard foods at all costs.