Glass ionomer cement fillings are often used in pediatric dentistry to treat cracks or fillings that are minor enough to not require a dental crown. The material has its pros and cons that can help you determine with your family dentist whether this would be the right filling choice for your child's particular situation.
Pro: Natural Looking and Requires Little Tooth Shaving
Glass ionomer cement fillings are made from a malleable composite material that the dentist can essentially pour into the tooth's hold. The cement will then harden in place on its own. The cement can be tinted to match the natural tooth and has a slight translucency that helps better match a tooth than some other filling materials.
When a dentist treats a crack or cavity, it is often necessary to shave down the edges of the hole. There are a couple of reasons for this: removing sharp edges makes it easier for any filling material to go inside, and the shaving can make room for some filling materials that are harder to fit into the hole.
The ionomer cement goes into any sized hole easily and doesn't require any special hardening effort from the dentist. So the dentist will need to perform minimal tooth shaving, which keeps as much of your child's natural tooth intact as possible.
Pro: Can Protect Tooth From Further Decay
The materials in the glass ionomer cement fillings have a chemical makeup that naturally emits a low level of fluoride. As you might know from numerous toothpaste ads, fluoride is great at promoting the health of existing tooth enamel and helping to fight off decay-causing bacteria.
The filling material can therefore help protect the surrounding tooth from suffering any further decay while the material is in place. The protection doesn't mean your child can slouch on oral healthcare habits, but any added dental health protection is welcomed.
Con: Susceptible to Bite Force Damage, Worsens Over Time
For all of the benefits of these cement fillings, this is not a material that's meant to be used in large fillings that will take on a lot of bite force. The filling will crack and deteriorate quickly when used in one of these ways.
But the fillings also aren't meant for long-term use as the material naturally degrades and worsens over time. (Yes, that is true of nearly any filling material, but here this happens faster and is more noticeable than on, for example, a metal amalgam filling). So these fillings are really meant most for baby teeth that only need protecting until they fall out or adult teeth that will receive a different filling material at a later date.
For more information, contact a company like Gentle Dental Family Care.