When a tooth has decay that needs to be removed (a cavity), a dental filling or dental restoration is used to fill the space of the missing tooth structure. Fillings (both amalgam and composite) are designed to last a long time, but eventually over time, all dental fillings will need to be replaced. With everything that your mouth endures from eating, drinking, gum chewing, teeth grinding, nail biting etc., it’s no wonder fillings last as long as they do!
Over time fillings can wear down, chip or crack. Sometimes fillings fall out all together, leaving the exposed tooth susceptible to harmful bacteria that causes tooth decay. Worn old fillings sometimes lose the seal to the tooth and have small gaps between the healthy teeth and filling material. Any space is not a good thing when it comes to fillings. Bacteria and food particles can settle in the crack or space of old fillings creating a recipe for disaster for your otherwise healthy teeth. Our mouths, our saliva and plaque on our teeth are filled with bacteria that cause tooth decay.
Where cracks and fillings are concerned, proper dental care becomes tricky. Where usual teeth brushing and flossing can usually help, if the space caused by an old filling is not properly cleaned out decay can begin to develop along the edge or underneath the filling. When this decay is untreated, it can infect the dental pulp which may result in the need for a root canal.
Regular dental checkups are a good idea for many reasons, especially if you have a mouthful of old fillings. Your dentist will be able to determine if you have at risk fillings that are becoming problematic. They will make sure your fillings remain sealed to your tooth with no wear, cracks, chips or spaces. Trust your dentist if they tell you that a filling needs to be replaced. Getting a new filling is a much more cost effective option than what may result if the filling is left to deteriorate. There is not an exact time frame to determine when a filling will need to be replaced, so find a dentist you can trust like Dr. Juban who will monitor the health of your teeth and fillings over time.