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What are the kinds and types of fillings?
The most classical way to treat caries is to use the filling. It is possible to restore the functional and the aesthetic functions of the tooth. The filling is made by the dentist directly in the patients mouth cavity. Fillings can be made of various materials. Nowadays the most popular materials for fillings are chemically hardened composite materials or light composite materials hardened under the influence of special blue light. Light composite materials are durable, attractive and can fully restore the color of the tooth and its transparency.
If a patient has extensive defects of the denture dentists can recommend using dental inlays instead of classical fillings. Dental inlays are made in a special technical lab according to the exact anatomic dental model of this very patient. The dentist fastens the inlay on the patients tooth. To do it he uses special glue.
Materials used to make inlays can be rather common (like materials used for ordinary fillings). Still, ceramic inlays are more popular as they can serve much longer than a classical filling. Actually ceramic veneersare dental inlays.
Dentists use 2 types of fillings: permanent and temporary.
Temporary fillings are installed for a short period of time. Later they will be replaced by permanent fillings. Temporary fillings are mostly used for diagnostics and treatment. Such fillings can be used in case the dentist is not sure whether the disease has affected the nerve. So the dentist uses a temporary filling. If there is still ache in the tooth then the nerve is damaged and it is necessary to remove it. Temporary fillings are also used to keep some medicines inside the tooth for a definite period of time so that the dentist could remove it in some days. Temporary fillings are not stable and will simply fall out shortly after your visit to the dentist. Such fillings can be removed fast and painlessly. These fillings are also used to cover arsenic used to kill the nerve.
Permanent fillings. Such fillings can serve the patient for years. There are different kinds of materials used to make permanent fillings.
Materials used to make fillings:
Metal. Different alloys of mercury and metal (in other words amalgam) can be used to make fillings. The biggest disadvantage of such fillings is that they contain mercury. This substance has negative influence on the persons organism. Another peculiarity is that amalgam has a tendency to gain in breadth after it was installed so it breaks off the side of the tooth near the filling. It is worth mentioning that nowadays the risk to lose the side of the tooth because of the metal filling is extremely low. This type of fillings is mostly applied to masticatory teeth or in difficult situations (cases of subgingival defects). Such fillings can be used under the crown when it makes no big difference whether the filling is attractive or not.
Fillings made of glass-ionomeric cement. As for the advantages of these fillings they are not expensive and have good edge conformity. Moreover, such fillings contain special additives that saturate dental tissues with fluorine ions. Such fillings prevent caries. The main disadvantage of such fillings is that they are fragile and will not serve you for too long.
Cement fillings. Such fillings can also prevent caries but they are short-lived as the material is fragile. Chemically hardened composite materials. The main aim of such materials is to replace classical cement fillings. The basic difference between 2 types of fillings is the filler. In most cases it is porcelain. Such composite materials are subdivided into 3 subgroups light-hardened, acryl-containing, and based on epoxy.
Composite materials that contain acryl are very solid and deletion-resistant. However, these materials are very toxic. After the filling has been installed there appear many pores (as a result of polymerization). If the dentist applies this filling to a healthy tooth it will cause pulpitis inflammation of the nerve. Using composite materials that contain acryl is very likely to cause secondary decay even on adjacent teeth.
Composite materials based on epoxy are more durable but less solid. Fillings made of such material are less toxic but they have a tendency to darken in some years.
Light-hardened composite materials. These materials are also called helium-hardened or photopolymer. This is one of the most widely spread and popular materials used to make fillings in Russia. This material is a mixture of a filler and a polymer which is hardened under the influence of a special light of a blue lamp. The main advantages of this material are its durability, nice look, and plasticity. The dentist can get a perfect result by controlling the process of hardening of the material. It is possible to choose the color of the material to match the original color of the patients teeth. This composite material polishes well and will look exactly like your teeth. Fillings made of photopolymers will serve you for a long time up to 7 years. The main problems of this material are edge attachment and shrinkage. That is why such fillings cannot replace prosthetic appliances and will not help to eliminate extensive defects of the denture.
Even despite all advantages of photopolymers used to make fillings they have 3 serious disadvantages:
Shrinkage. The reason of this disadvantage is hidden in the chemical composition of this material. When the process of hardening starts the filling reduces its volume. It causes shrinkage. The filling can lose from 0,8 to 5% of its volume and eventually the filling will not contact the edge of the side of the tooth the way it should. Even though the dentists have invented some ways to solve this problem they are not always effective. Sometimes it is practically impossible to use any of them to prevent shrinkage. Such filling will be perfect for small damaged areas but it cannot be used if large damaged areas are involved. If the edge of the filling does not contact with the side of the tooth caries may appear in this space under the filling.
If the shrinkage is excessive the whole structure of the filling may undergo deformation and cause splitting off of the thin sides of the tooth.
Incomplete hardening. The problem is that under the influence of blue light the filling cannot harden completely. 70% hardening would be the best result. It affects the color and the durability of the filling. If it were possible to develop the temperature of the filling to 100 degrees for 15 minutes the filling would be much more durable. Such principle is used to make inlays of photopolymer composite material.