White Fillings (BPA Free)
Nearly everyone has had a filling as a child from a cavity. If you’re concerned about the adverse effects of metal filings in your child’s mouth or just don’t like the cosmetic look, now you have options. Your child will likely develop some tooth decay, but when it happens in a visible area, talk to Dr. Mila Cohen about the possibility of getting new white fillings.
White fillings match the color of your child’s teeth. They’re not like the silver-colored fillings of years gone by; in fact, the new white material produces BPA-free fillings. As long as your kid’s tooth decay is mild to moderate, he qualifies for a white filling. If your child has a tooth that’s seriously infected, a root canal and a crown may be required to save the tooth.
Check Your Kid’s Cavities
When you visit your dentist, your child’s gums, teeth and jawbones get a thorough examination and diagnosis. Your dentist may take X-rays to see if there’s anything problematic. If tooth decay or a cavity is found, your dentist may recommend fillings as a method of treatment.
White fillings are composite resin fillings, meaning they’re made from a combination of elements, which may include glass and plastic. They’re designed to both hide the cavity and protect the health of your child’s tooth. While they don’t last forever, they do last a long time.
White Fillings Have Many Benefits
Filling a cavity protects the health of your child’s tooth, but white fillings are also used to repair chipped, broken or worn teeth —processes known as restorative treatments. When you compare white fillings to the traditional amalgam (or metal) fillings, there are some of the benefits that white fillings enjoy:
- Metal-free. White fillings are made from a mixture that is 100 percent metal-free. They contain no mercury and can be shaped to the form of the tooth.
- Matched color. White fillings are formulated to simulate the natural color of your child’s existing teeth, making them harder to detect when your kid laughs or smiles.
- Less sensitivity. Metal fillings conduct heat and are sensitive to cold food and drinks. Sensitivity isn’t an issue with white fillings.
- Better support. White fillings improve the tooth structure because less of the tooth is removed when using white fillings, and the white filling composite bonds to the tooth, adding extra support.
The Procedure and Application
The process of receiving white fillings varies, depending on the severity of tooth decay, the location of the cavity on the tooth and other potential damage to the gums or surrounding bones. While all of the following steps may not apply to your child’s condition, this is the most common procedure:
- Your dentist in Jersey applies a painkiller, like local anesthesia. Whether your child needs this depends on the severity of the tooth decay and the nerves that can be affected during the procedure. Your dentist may offer alternative painkillers if you don’t want to put your child under anesthesia.
- The dentist analyzes the color of the tooth and selects a filling composite shade that matches. Shades vary from child to child and can go from bright white to yellow or gray. Your dentist in Jersey City also considers other factors — like tooth staining — when determining a composite shade.
- Your dentist isolates the affected tooth by using a dental dam, cotton rolls or cords (called retraction cords) that isolate the tooth. Isolating the tooth gives the dentist a clear view for the procedure while preventing contact with saliva, which decreases the strength of the bond in the filling.
- Once your dentist has isolated the tooth, the tooth’s cavity is prepared. The dentist removes the decayed area — usually with a drill or pick — to create a clean hole that serves to hold the filling material properly.
- Your child’s tooth is now ready to receive the white filling material. Before the composite is added, the dentist etches the enamel with etchant to allow the composite to bond with the tooth. Your dentist then coats the tooth with an adhesive solution.
- The white filling composite is added. This material usually cures on its own, but your dentist can use a special light to cause the material to harden. The dentist finishes the process by contouring the filling to match the tooth’s shape, allowing it to blend seamlessly with the structure of the tooth.
- Your kids dentist finishes by polishing the tooth.
White Filling Aftercare
Your dentist stresses that protecting the new fillings is required to ensure their longevity. Much of the after-care is common sense, but you can count on your kids dentist to provide you with the steps that you and your child should follow, such as:
- Tell your child to chew food on the other side of his mouth for a day or two after the procedure. This allows the filling to full bond with the tooth.
- If your child is given anesthesia, the effects can remain for several hours after the procedure. Your child will experience numbing to his lips and gums. Tell him to not be alarmed, as this feeling will pass within the same day — and usually after a few hours.
- If your child reports any swelling or mild pain, get him to rinse his mouth with a solution of salt mixed into warm water. Have him rinse three times a day for a day or two after the procedure.
The Future of Fillings
Over the last couple of decades, amalgam fillings have diminished in popularity, while composite white fillings have become more popular. This is partially due to the price of composite fillings going down at the same time that the composites have grown stronger. Worldwide, however, amalgam fillings still serve a vital role, as they’re more viable in markets that are price-sensitive.
The strength of amalgam is much stronger in posterior teeth, so until composite fillings catch up to that, amalgam will still be prevalent. When in doubt, ask your dentist which material is safest and will work best in your child’s mouth.