Fillings – for caries and fracture damage
Fillings are used to restore minor damage to the tooth. As a rule, these are caused by caries, also known as tooth decay. Its causes are manifold; acids and microorganisms play a significant role. It is estimated that around 99 percent of the population are affected by caries at least once in their lives and require fillings, although steady progress has been made in caries prevention in recent years. In addition to carious damage, parts of a tooth that have been broken in a dental accident can also be treated with fillings.
Today’s dentistry has produced a wide range of filling materials and methods. They can be divided into two classes: rigid and plastic. Rigid fillings are created outside the mouth, based on an impression or scan, and then fixed in or onto the tooth. Plastic fillings, on the other hand, are fitted directly in the tooth and harden there.
For decades, amalgam was the plastic filling material of choice. However, it has fallen into disrepute because of the mercury it contains, which is absorbed by the body in minimal doses. Compared to the dose that we absorb every day through food and air, the dose from fillings is insignificant. Nevertheless, public health policy aims to lower mercury absorption and therefore wants to reduce the use of amalgam fillings. We do not use this defunct substance in our practice, either.
Tooth-coloured, robust, and easy on the body: composite fillings
These days, the standard material for fillings is composite. This plastic mixture offers everything you would expect from modern filling technology: it is durable and stable, has excellent body compatibility, and can be matched to tooth colour. As plastic materials, composites are inserted into the tooth while still malleable, where they are cured by a chemical process called polymerization. The only disadvantage of note is that several layers must be applied in order to treat deeper lesions. This is because the material contracts during polymerization. But when it comes to the production of a top-class filling, a few minutes’ extra effort is well worth it. Composite fillings can be produced for both milk teeth and permanent teeth, and in principle are suitable for all tooth surfaces.
The adhesive method, which enables filling material to be ‘bonded’ by means of a wafer-thin plastic layer, also contributes to the strength. Thus, the filling forms a micromechanical bond with the tooth – a barrier that is so tight that bacteria cannot break through. In addition to increased durability and sterility, this technique also protects any natural tooth substance. This is because any natural tooth substance only needs to be roughened slightly, whereas other luting procedures often require the grinding of healthy teeth.
Cement is another plastic filling material, but up to now it has primarily been used for temporary restorations. However, more recent technological advances in this material mean that it is now catching up in terms of abrasion and durability, so that fillings made of glass ionomer cement and compomers are now also conceivable as a permanent solution.
Rigid materials include ceramic or gold inlays, which are fixed fillings created outside the mouth and installed in the tooth. Cement is usually used as the adhesive. We work with established, experienced dental laboratories for this type of dental prosthesis.
We will be happy to advise you in detail on fillings that are suitable for you, and to make appropriate recommendations.