Two types of white materials are used for fillings in our office: composite and glass ionomer. Both materials are white colored fillings that fill in the hole left behind after a cavity is removed. These materials can also be used to make white crowns, or caps, on front teeth. Composite is the standard white filling used, which is held on to the tooth by an adhesive layer and requires the tooth to be completely dry to allow for proper hardening and seal of the tooth. Glass ionomer is another material which can be used when the tooth may not be able to stay as dry, and also has fluoride that is released directly onto the tooth to help strength the tooth. Glass ionomers do not always have the strength to be used in all situations.
White fillings can match the teeth and be esthetically pleasing, but are not appropriate in all situations. Cavities that are too large or have extended to the nerve of the tooth may require a crown instead. Primary teeth tend to have more forces on them and may require a different material to prevent fracture. Teeth with fillings can still need treatment in the future if a new cavity starts on another part of the tooth, or even start underneath an old filling. Good oral hygiene and a diet low in sugars are important to increase the longevity of the filling. It is also important to avoid eating very sticky/tacky candies which can pull a filling out, and avoid chewing on hard candies or ice which can crack a filling.