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Restorative Dentistry: What Tooth Colored Fillings Are Right For Your Kids' Ages?

If your kids have cavities, you may think that the dentist will only use silver fillings to restore your children's teeth. Although silver fillings are the most common restorations for children's teeth, these types of fillings aren't the only options for your kids. The dentist can also use tooth colored fillings for your kids' dental restorations. All you need to do is choose the right tooth colored fillings for your kids' specific dental needs. Here are two types of tooth colored restorations that may work best for your children based on their ages.

Glass Ionomers: Tooth Colored Restorations for Kids Ages 3-6

Your kids' teeth develop in stages or phases. The most important stage in your children's development occurs between 3-6 years of age. By the time your little ones turn 3 years of age, they should have all 20 of their primary or baby teeth.

Baby teeth play critical roles in your kids' growth and development for the next few years by helping them learn how to speak correctly and eat properly. Because of these important milestones, it essential that your kids don't lose their baby teeth too early.

Glass ionomers are the best tooth colored fillings for your children because they protect your kids' teeth until they don't need them anymore. The restorations tend to last for at least five years, or until your children's teeth fall out naturally.

Glass ionomers are made with powdered glass and liquid polyacrylic acid. These materials harden immediately after placement, which eliminates the need to use curing lights and other applications during the treatment.  

In addition to preventing premature tooth loss, glass ionomer fillings contain the mineral fluoride. Glass ionomer restorations release the fluoride over time. Fluoride rebuilds your little ones' tooth enamel, which is essential in the prevention of future cavities — especially in your kids' adult teeth.

However, if your kids do experience tooth decay in their adult teeth, they'll need a stronger, more resilient type of tooth colored filling called composite resin.

Composite Resin: Tooth Colored Restorations for Kids Ages 6-12

Between the ages of 6-12, your kids adult teeth erupt. If these teeth develop cavities, your kids can benefit from composite resin fillings. Composite is stronger than glass ionomers because it contains glue-like material called resin that seals out moisture, bacteria and food particles.

The dentist generally uses resin-based fillings to repair damaged back teeth, but the restorations can repair any tooth that has a small to medium-sized cavity. Unlike glass ionomer fillings, which needs to stay wet during placement, composite resin is generally placed when it's soft and malleable. Your kids' dentist can easily shape, manipulate and press composite resin fillings inside their teeth when it's soft.

Composite resin fillings usually last as long as glass ionomer fillings. But if your kids eat and drink the right snacks and beverages, their fillings can last longer.

Tips to Help Protect Teeth Restored With Composite Resin

Your kids' composite resin restorations may last longer if they eat healthier snacks, such as carrot sticks and apples. Also, encourage your kids to drink beverages such as unsweetened fruit juices and fruit-flavored water instead of sodas. Try to avoid serving your kids sports drinks because these beverages contain citric acids.

Although composite resin fillings are strong once they harden in teeth, acids can break down the material over time. The acids also damage the enamel surrounding your kids' restorations. Both problems increase your kids' risks for future tooth decay.

If you have concerns about tooth colored fillings or how they help your kids, contact your dentist for an appointment. Keeping your kids' teeth healthy at any stage in their lives is essential.