Choosing the best tooth filling for your child.
As parents, we do everything we can to protect and care for our kids, including taking steps to care for their oral health. We know it’s not always easy, though, and sometimes kids end up with cavities. Thankfully, cavities are often easy to treat when they’re discovered early—you can even choose between amalgam and tooth-colored composite fillings for your child. It’s natural to want the best treatment for your child, so we often get asked which type of cavity filling is best.
The truth is that both types of fillings are good options for most people, but composite fillings do come with several unique benefits that cause many patients to prefer them. That said, everyone’s treatment needs and preferences are different, so the best treatment for one person isn’t always the same as the best treatment for another. You don’t have to worry about puzzling out these differences on your own, though! That’s where our dental team comes in. To help you choose the best treatment for your child, we’ve broken down the benefits of composite fillings.
Tooth-colored fillings look natural.
The most obvious benefit of tooth-colored fillings is that they look natural. Amalgam fillings are metal and are visible on teeth as a gray spot, which can cause kids to be a little self-conscious of their smile. Composite fillings, on the other hand, are designed to blend in with your child’s natural teeth. The resin that makes up composite fillings is tinted and buffed to match the shade and gloss of the rest of your child’s natural teeth. Tooth-colored composite fillings blend in so well that no one will realize they’re even there! They leave the tooth just as beautiful as it was before their cavity and help your child to stay confident in their smile.
They decrease the chances of further decay.
The resin that makes up composite fillings bonds with your child’s tooth, creating an air-tight seal. This helps keep bacteria out of the damaged part of their tooth, decreasing the chance of future decay there. Amalgam fillings also do a great job of preventing future decay, but composite fillings’ ability to bond directly and more effectively to teeth gives them a bit of an edge in this category. When your kids are young and learning how to clean their teeth properly or struggling to stick to a schedule, this extra edge can make all the difference for their long-term oral health!
They make your child’s tooth stronger than amalgam fillings.
There are several reasons that tooth-colored fillings make your child’s teeth stronger than amalgam fillings. First, since tooth-colored fillings bond to your child’s teeth so readily, they require less drilling to place. This means that your child’s dentist doesn’t need to remove as much of the natural structure of their tooth. Larger fillings can make teeth brittle, so keeping the filling small helps the tooth stay strong. Generally, the more of the tooth’s natural, healthy tooth structure that can be saved, the better it is for the tooth’s long-term health. Another factor that allows composite fillings to make your child’s teeth stronger than amalgam fillings do is the way that the resin is placed. Resin is hardened using a specialized tool that emits ultraviolet light, so it’s applied and then hardened in layers. This creates a stronger and more durable structure.
Composite fillings are repairable.
Although composite fillings are durable enough to withstand around five to 10 years of daily wear and tear, depending on your child’s oral hygiene routine, they can get damaged. Anything that could injure your child’s natural teeth, such as a blow to the face while playing a sport or habitually clenching or grinding their teeth, also runs the risk of damaging their filling. Thankfully, instead of needing to be replaced, a damaged composite tooth filling can often be repaired! It’s an incredibly helpful aspect of composite dental fillings that can save you the time and money of getting a completely new filling. Spending less time in the dental chair can also save you and your child stress, making the process easier on everyone!
Aside from their appearance, one of the major drawbacks of amalgam fillings is that some people are allergic or sensitive to one or more of the metals contained in the alloy. For this reason, if you’re considering amalgam fillings, it’s always a good idea to make sure your child won’t react to metals before making your final decision. Composite fillings, however, avoid this problem entirely because they’re made of quartz or glass particles mixed with acrylic resin. They don’t contain any metals for your child to react to—in fact, they’re considered hypoallergenic! Even if your child has sensitive skin, you shouldn’t have to worry about them reacting to a composite dental filling.
Tooth-colored composite fillings cause less tooth sensitivity.
People with composite dental fillings tend to experience less tooth sensitivity than those with amalgam fillings. But why is that? Well, metal is very susceptible to temperature transfer—when it comes into contact with something hot or cold, it changes temperature too. As it does, it also expands or contracts slightly. The change in temperature alone right against the tooth can cause tooth sensitivity, often as a sharp pain or an ache. Not everyone experiences this tooth sensitivity with amalgam fillings, but it’s important to be aware of the possibility.
Thankfully, this is another problem that tooth-colored fillings avoid, simply because they don’t contain metal. The resin that makes up composite dental fillings doesn’t respond to changes in temperature the way metal does. As a result, while your child may experience tooth sensitivity shortly after the filling has been placed, it shouldn’t last long-term. They should be able to continue enjoying all their favorite hot drinks and cold treats without worrying about tooth sensitivity from their filling!
Ask your dentist if tooth-colored fillings are right for your child.
Composite fillings have a range of advantages that make them a preferred choice for many patients of all ages. Despite this, composite and amalgam fillings are both effective treatments for cavities, each with unique strengths and weaknesses. If you’d like to learn more about these differences and which treatment might be best for your child from a pediatric dentist in Salem, Oregon, feel free to schedule an appointment with Dr. Cooper or Dr. Day at any time.