While cavities are preventable, an essential part of our treatments come with giving parents multiple options for their child’s teeth. Dental fillings come in numerous varieties, and all of them have their own benefits and disadvantages. Here, we’re going to provide some information on those options and help inform you about the best ways to treat your child’s cavities.
Choosing Between Children’s Dental Fillings
So, what types of dental fillings are available for kids? Dental fillings can come in several different materials, each operating with its advantages and disadvantages. These varieties include:
- Amalgam Fillings: Amalgam fillings are the most traditional form of filling you can get for your child. These fillings are made with a mixture of tin, copper, silver, zinc, and mercury (with the mercury levels being scarce enough to not cause adverse side effects). Strong and durable, these fillings are an excellent choice for children prone to huge bite pressures. They’re less expensive, have been used for over 100 years, and last over ten years. However, because of the metal tarnishing,
- Composite Resin Fillings: Composite resin fillings are made of acrylic powders and resin and can be colored to match your child’s teeth. These fillings offer an attractive finish that’s practically undetectable and have strong bonds. Composite resin fillings don’t always hold up to the biting pressure and require more amounts of time in the chair to complete.
- Ceramic Fillings: Also known as porcelain fillings, these fillings are a low-profile option that’s stain-resistant. These filling match the tooth’s color; they also have aesthetically pleasing qualities. However, they’re also quite expensive and do not last as long as composites.
- Glass Ionomer Fillings: Similar to composite fillings, glass ionomer fillings are made of acrylic and fluoroaluminosilicate, a glass component. While typically used for inlays and onlays, these fillings are some of the most commonly used options by pediatric and family dentists, especially for baby teeth. These fillings usually last around five years, which makes them a perfect transition piece as your child grows.
Are Dental Fillings Safe?
One of the biggest questions often presented to dentists is whether or not dental fillings are safe for kids. As an understandable concern, what we currently know about dental fillings is that they are relatively safe. Studies reported from the National Institute of Health described these concerns, outlining how dental amalgam fillings back in the 1980s produced a continuous release of mercury vapor that was absorbed into the body, which raised concerns about the toxicity level of these fillings. However, as we’ve developed more sensitive technologies, the two studies reported within this performed safety trails for children with cavities. These two studies reported that no major health changes occurred as a result of attaining these fillings due to the mercury findings being described as “typical for the average person,” and we’re considered background exposure that’s relatively average.
If your child’s started complaining about tooth pain, they could have a cavity. Cavities are one of the most persistent and chronic diseases that affect children annually. Untreated cavities can lead to problems speaking, eating, and learning and children with poor oral health often suffer long-term consequences, such as missing school or receiving lower grades when faced with tooth pain. Often, pediatric dentists present dental sealants as an option as a preventative treatment, but for children who do have cavities, dental fillings are what we use to keep children’s teeth healthy and safe.