Dental fillings basically consist of removal or excavation of decayed tooth structure and restoring the defect. There are various materials available for different types of fillings. In the past metallic fillings containing mercury were widely used which are being slowly phased due to two main reasons.
1. The unaesthetic appearance of the silver filling which over time tarnishes and turns dark over time.
2. Mercury content in the filling material which can be a health hazard.
Aesthetic tooth-colored fillings are used widely nowadays and are the chosen filling materials in the most cases. Composites contain resin and fillers which come in a wide variety of shades and finish and match perfectly with natural teeth. These are widely used in the anterior region where shade matching is of utmost importance, it also gives a very good glossy finish.
Also in patients with high caries risk especially in children, GIC or glass ionomer cement are widely used. This cement has a fluoride releasing property which is highly therapeutic and helps in caries prevention and tooth decay. GIC bonds well to teeth surfaces and comes in various shades.This is an ideal material for temporisation or for temporary fillings in adults with very deep carious lesions close to the nerve or pulp of the tooth. This material protects the pulp and the calcium ion release also helps in repair and dentin formation over a period of time.
There are certain temporary filling materials like IRM (Intermediate filling Material) which possesses high strength and is ideal for temporisation or temporary fillings in deep cavities. This helps in healing and prevents further dental decay before the final filling is completed. ZOE (Zinc oxide eugenol) is another temporary filling material which have obtundant or numbing properties to soothe the pulp tissue and is an ideal material for temporisation of deep cavities. In very deep carious lesions with small pinpoint pulp exposure Dycal or calcium hydroxide can be used to regenerate dentin. This material is very beneficial for the pulp as it not only helps in dentin or tooth structure formation but also acts as an antiseptic and has healing properties.
Hence dental fillings form the core of dental work and it is vital that fillings are done at the earliest to prevent further decay of tooth structure. If left untreated it can lead to pain and swelling due to pulp involvement in teeth and severe loss and fracture of tooth structure.