Dental Cements and their Uses

Dental procedures are one of the most ancient and there are so many manuscripts about treating the teeth with various traditional and surgical methods around the globe. Dentistry dates back to as long as 9000 years ago, when ancient healers and medicine practitioners used to treat teeth without proper equipment or tools and even without anesthesia to numb the area.

Thanks to the advent in medical sciences and technology, Dental science and dental methods are far more superior, painless and efficient now when compared to any other year or decade from now. We are at the best of science dental techniques and treatments are extremely reliable and efficient at this moment.

Dental procedures involve the treatment of teeth and gums and also deal with the surgical requirements of the tooth, jaw and other adjoining and supporting organs. There are many treatments currently that are practised to heal tooth decay, which is the most common dental ailment found in all age groups. Tooth decay is caused by exposing the tooth to harmful food such as salty, sweet, oily, greasy and starchy foods and not cleaning the tooth thoroughly after its consumption. This leads to germs buildup in the area that deteriorate the tooth along with the food debris and therefore cause tooth decay.

Tooth decay can be treated by a dentist after careful examination of how worse the condition of the tooth is. If the infection is new and still superficial, then it can be treated with just a dental filling. A dental filling is a procedure in which a dentist uses temporary or permanent dental tooth filling cement to fill the tooth after cleaning the infection and decay thoroughly.

What are Dental Cements?

Dental cements, much like the name suggests, help cementing various tooth attachments such as crowns to the tooth or can be used for dental fillings such as the permanent tooth filling cements. Dental cements traditionally come as powders that need to be mixed with liquid bases so as to form a semi-thick solution. When applied, this solution hardens on the surface into a brittle structure, strong enough to hold shape and form but weak enough to be replaced and removed as and when required.

Dental cements are als a topic of much research and many more modern types of bonding material is being found and used instead of cements. GIC or Glass Ionomer cement is a new age bonding material that comes in capsules. These capsules are prepped inside a mixing machine before being used as a bond for the tooth affixment.

Dental cements that are made with powders and liquids are traditional and yet they are the most preferred and the most commonly used form of cements in the dentistry world. The most commonly used powder formula is Zinc Phosphate, which is also the most popular of dental cements and is mostly used for dental restorations

Composite Cements

Fillings and Metal Amalgams

Composite Fillings are the best material if you are looking for matching tooth colour. These kinds of fillings may not be as long lasting as silver and gold amalgams but are completely healthy and the best alternative to metal based fillings. Ceramic fillings are also a great option but they are quite expensive when compared to the other options. Ceramic matches the tooth colour perfectly and completely disguises as your teeth, unlike meta amalgams that are very strikingly visible. Ceramic fillings are made from porcelain and are usually more durable than composite resin fillings, which are basically made from plastic.

Silver and gold amalgams are, or were the most common form of permanent tooth filling cement as they are very cost effective, lasts for over 10 to 15 years, has close to zero maintenance cost and are strong and durable. The only problem with them was that they are not aesthetically pleasing, which therefore did not work in the modern generation.

GIC - Glass Ionomer Cement

This is the more recent approach to dental cements and permanent tooth filling cement. GIC is made from glass particles and is resilient, they are not used on chewing surfaces, rather than around the tooth as they seldom handle the pressure from chewing and various other activities. They do not last as long as metal amalgams but are cost efficient and durable. GIC is known for its ability to cover small cavities without going in for heavy filling options. They are also aesthetically pleasing, therefore are the best choice when it comes to modern age dental cement options.

GIC consists of glass imitating composition - alumina, silica and calcium along with a fluoride base. This fluoride releases in a slow sustained manner throughout its period and helps protect teeth from cavity and decay. GIC fillings typically last for 5 years after which they may have to go in for a replacement. GIC’s ability to bond chemically with the enamel with polar bonds makes it a popular option rather than going in for traditional cements that feel weird in the mouth. These fillings can be done right away and without any hassle. Unlike typical dental cement, GIC can set as soon as within 3 mins. They also look quite transparent and teeth like therefore are popular amongst kids and young adults.

Advantages of using Dental Cements

1. Dental Fillings

Dental cements is the major constituent in dental filling procedure. The various types of cements discussed here are used as filling for damaged or decayed teeth. This helps in sealing the gaps after a treatment and preventing further breakdown of the tooth

2. Aesthetics

Fillings are aesthetically more pleasing and therefore, most patients prefer filling that looks more like the teeth rather than metal amalgams, even though the latter is proven to be stronger. Fillings are also required on teeth that are partially cracked, chipped or broken, either by filling them or by placing a crown on them, which is then cemented with a permanent tooth filling cement.

3. Teeth Placement

Crowns are used in places where a tooth is removed, broken or treated with root canal treatment. A crown needs to be placed using a dental cement. This makes sure that the teeth alignment does not change and remains intact in the course of time.