There are a variety of filling materials available today. The challenge is to determine the best and most appropriate material for the procedure and to recognize the weaknesses and strengths of the materials. There is no one material that will fit all needs.
One of the most common and easily recognized filings is the silver or amalgam filling. These fillings have been used successfully for decades. They are durable, predictable, and cost effective. The drawback is that they are not attractive when they can be seen in a smile. To date, there is no scientific evidence that there is any health risk related to silver fillings. A study published in The Journal of the American Dental Association, (February, 2008) studied a group of 507 children age 8-12 beginning in 1997. The study followed the children based on using silver fillings vs. white fillings and evaluated the neurological impact on the developing children. The conclusion of the study was: “This study fails to show that exposure to mercury in childhood as a consequence of treatment with silver/amalgam restorations is associated with a higher frequency of NSS’s (neurological soft signs) in childhood and adolescence”. The study further states: “This study results show clearly that children exposed to elemental mercury from dental amalgam, do not differ from similar children without amalgam exposure in terms of gross and fine neurological development”.
Composite fillings are tooth-colored fillings that are often as natural as the original tooth. These fillings are generally preferred in areas that are visible in your smile and may be used to replace existing silver fillings that are not pleasing in your smile.
The composite fillings are one of the most basic cosmetic treatments that we provide. When used properly, they will provide years of service. Because of our ability to bond to tooth structures, more conservative/smaller preparations are often possible.
The use of these bonded materials is limited to areas that can be isolated from moisture during placement. Moisture contamination will lead to leakage and premature failure. These materials are not intended for areas of high stress or areas with a high potential for recurrent decay. A Formal Caries Risk Assessments help us to identify high risk patients.
RESIN MODIFIED GLASS IONOMER
Resin Modified Glass Ionomer (RMGI) materials have been developed areas of damage that must have an esthetic appearance, but that may not be reasonable to restore with composite materials due to location or inability to protect from moisture contamination. These materials have a self-adhesive property, and they release fluoride to aid in decay prevention. They lack durability for high function areas, but they do work very well as build-up materials. There are occasions that these RMGI materials may be used in conjunction with traditional composite materials.
The materials are natural in appearance and a material of choice for affected root surfaces in cosmetic areas.