Currently, there are so few useful studies on the pediatric filling materials that there is not enough evidence “to make any recommendations about which filling material to use,” said Veerasamy Yengopal, an oral health expert at South Africa’s University of Witswatersrand, and leader of a review that appeared in The Cochrane Library, a publication of The Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates medical research. Since filling manufacturers change their products frequently, high-level studies of dental fillings could be hard to come by, stated Dr. Joel Berg, chair of pediatric dentistry at the University of Washington and a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists. The 3 studies examined by the reviewers included 81 children between the ages of 4 and 9 years. In each study, the children had at least one cavity on each side of their mouth filled with a different material, so that researchers could compare different fillings for one person. The filling materials used were: a metal-mercury amalgam, a resin-modified glass composite filling, and a filling that combines a plastic-ceramic material with elements of the glass filling. They found no significant variations as to how well the materials lasted or whether the children were pain-free at the end of each study. These studies did not compare the value of fillings to pulling the teeth or “watchful waiting” of the cavities. Yet, many of these cavities will go beyond the tooth to infect the gums and face, said Dr. Berg, so caries treatment is important to rid the child of the disease before it can progress. The authors also said that measures to prevent caries (ie, sealants) were beyond the scope of the review.
(Source: Science Daily, May 6, 2009)