Gum Line Fillings

The gum line (cervical area) is a common location for fillings to be needed. They can be needed due to decay, toothbrush abrasion, erosion, or abfraction. Cavities along the gum line are totally preventable with good oral hygiene on a daily basis. Toothbrush abrasion is another preventable reason for needing cervical fillings. Chemical erosion can dissolve tooth structure. It is most common on any exposed dentin since dentin is significantly softer than enamel and the gum line is where most of the exposed dentin will be. Chemical erosion can come from acidic foods or reflux of stomach acids. Abfraction is thought to be caused by tooth flexure from biting and chewing forces. It is postulated that tiny particles of tooth structure fracture off at the cervical area eventually getting deep enough that it would need to be repaired. There are two types of materials used to restore cervical defects – composite and glass ionomer. Glass ionomer is most helpful in individuals with a high cavity rate. The glass ionomer will leach fluoride into the surrounding tooth structure making those areas more decay resistant. Unfortunately, glass ionomers are not very wear resistant and need to be replaced frequently. The other material that is used for gum line fillings is composite, the one that is normally used for tooth-colored fillings. Since the composite doesn’t leach fluoride, it tends to get small cavities around its edges and must be replaced frequently. The best thing to do is prevention by gentle tooth brushing along the gum line on a daily basis.