White fillings started off as a cosmetic alternative for anterior teeth (front teeth) There are several types of white fillings but the two most commonly used in everyday practice here in Ipswich are, glass ionomers and composites.
Glass ionomers are white fillings which usually are less aesthetic/cosmetic or natural looking compared to composites and are less hard wearing but they contain varying amounts of fluoride which is a compound that makes teeth more resistant to decay.
Glass ionomers can also soak up fluoride from toothpaste and can release it to the tooth and give it enhanced protection against tooth decay/caries.
Glass ionomers are therefore useful to fill areas of teeth which are not subjected to direct biting from opposing teeth, such as the outer or inner surfaces or surfaces close to the gum line.
Glass ionomers are particularly suitable for children or adults who have an increased risk of developing tooth decay, for example patients who suffer from mouth dryness or patients who cannot avoid a sugary diet or who have insufficient plaque control
Composites are white fillings which are usually more aesthetic or cosmetic than glass ionomers.
Composites bond very well to enamel and are very useful nowadays for not only cosmetic reasons but also as effective solutions when we need to build up short teeth which have been worn down by a hard bite or an abrasive diet.
Composites can be used for direct composite veneers, saving the patient from expensive and invasive procedures such as ceramic veneers or crowns.
Composite fillings do not require as much drilling as silver/amalgam fillings and are therefore kinder on the teeth.
One disadvantage is that composite fillings need completely dry teeth when they are put in, which makes the procedure more complex than silver fillings. They also could shrink a little which can open the way for new bacteria and future decay. (This risk is usually managed quite acceptably)