Glass fillings are an option for certain patients that may be a good alternative to standard composite fillings. This alternative has many proper applications, but also a number of concerning drawbacks that all people considering them should know. Are glass ionomer fillings a good option for the majority of patients?
One of the most common reasons to consider glass fillings for patients is when they still have their temporary “baby" teeth present. As these are teeth expected to be lost as the patient ages, glass fillings are an excellent option for something stronger than composite. For this reason, they're also commonly used in emergency dental care, when lasting power is not as much of a priority as immediate, reliable strength.
Due to their superior strength and relative fragility, they're also an option for fillings in teeth that aren't used for chewing and biting.
Another useful application for glass ionomer fillings is that they naturally release fluoride, which can make them better for teeth that are afflicted with erosion, decay, and cavities. Fluoride benefits the tooth's recovery and aids it in healing more promptly. One other property that benefits emergency care is that the material is easier to affix to teeth, which makes it great for time sensitive treatment.
However, glass falls short by comparison in a few regards. As mentioned above, it is not as durable, making it a poor long-term treatment or option for biting teeth. Although advancements are being made in coloration and texture, it is still not as discrete as composite is naturally.
Composites are also more reliable in general, as they are a more developed filling, whereas improvements to glass fillings are still constantly being researched. Furthermore, due to their material, glass fillings still require meticulous care to ensure that no bodily fluids get into them before they have time to properly harden and set, potentially damaging the filling and even the tooth.
Glass fillings are a great option for temporary or emergency treatment, whereas composites are more reliable and trusted for long term fillings. If you have questions about your fillings or need to get new or replacement fillings in your teeth, please call us to schedule an appointment so we can properly address your concerns and give you our best advice.
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Nicholas Dose, DMD 601 1st Street Suite A Lake Oswego, OR 97034-2370