Have you had a cavity filled at some point in your life? If you’ve had it for a while there’s a good possibility it’s metal amalgam: you know, that ugly grey stuff. Those were the most common fillings for decades – centuries, even – but there are some limitations to what they can do.
And if that metal filling is over ten years old then there’s a good possibility something could go wrong with it. Fillings aren’t designed to last forever, and a lot of people don’t know that! At Edgewood Dental Care we believe fillings need to be checked on and replaced periodically, especially those old metal ones. There are a whole bunch of things that can go wrong if you leave them in place!
Worn Down Cement
Metal fillings aren’t exactly great at bonding to your teeth. They can’t really do it at all, in fact, so they have to be cemented in place. The cement that holds them there is pretty hearty but it definitely doesn’t last forever. In fact, it tends to start wearing out after about a decade.
When cement wears down something really bad can happen: little spaces can open up between your filling and your tooth. Those spaces are incredibly inviting to bacteria. Once they take up residence you’re almost sure to end up with cavities. These cavities are even more serious than the ones that start on the surfaces of your teeth: they’re already inside!
Cavities that form around a filling can be devastating, largely because they’re so difficult to detect. We can’t visually check for them and a metal filling makes them incredibly difficult to see via X-ray. In some cases patients will have no idea there’s a problem until the filing breaks through the surface of the tooth.
Like any other hard substance that constantly under pressure, a filling can crack. When that happens the fracture might be large, prompting you to make an appointment, but in many cases a filling crack can be tiny and hard to notice as well.
The problem with cracked fillings is largely the same as worn cement: it gives bacteria a way in to your tooth. While these cracks can often be repaired it takes regular maintenance and dental care to actually notice them.
Your teeth are designed to distribute the forces of chewing evenly. In order to do this they flex ever so slightly. Stick a nice big piece of metal in the middle of a slightly flexible tooth, and guess what? Things don’t work out quite the same way.
Metal fillings aren’t designed to bend like teeth, making them a major source of damage the longer they stay in. While microfractures of the teeth aren’t a guarantee with a filling they are a distinct possibility!
Microfractures can lead to toothaches, cavities, and even further damage as the crack worsens over time. Like cavities inside a tooth, microfractures are incredibly hard to detect! Our state-of-the-art imaging system can often catch them before it’s too late, but some locations can be incredibly difficult to identify.
The Better Filling Choice
Whether you need a new filling or an old one replaced there’s a newer material that’s vastly superior to metal amalgam: dental composite. Composite is a mixture made of glass and metal that’s designed to perfectly mimic the look, feel, and function of natural teeth. A composite filling is impossible to detect and works incredibly well at doing all the things that metal fillings can’t!
For example, composite fillings are designed to bond directly to bone, so you’ll never need to worry about cement that wears away and lets bacteria in. They’re also just as flexible as the natural portions of your tooth so that forces will be distributed evenly, greatly reducing the chances of microfractures.
And, of course, they look completely natural. When you get a composite filling you might not even be able to tell where it is. We’ve actually had patients come back to us having forgotten which tooth had been filled!
We Offer You What We Believe In
Composite fillings are simply an advancement in technology that has greatly surpassed metal amalgam. They’re safer, look better, and are completely biocompatible and safe. If you need a new filling or need one replaced don’t hesitate to contact our Edgewood office so we can help!