No one wants tooth decay. It’s why you brush and floss and get regular professional dental cleanings (right?).
And yet, more than 90 percent of Americans will have at least one cavity in their lives. A vast majority of them will get dental fillings to restore the function and, at least at Edgewood Dental Care, the appearance of their tooth as well.
There’s one problem with fillings, however. So far, no one has developed a permanent filling. Over time, they wear out and need to be replaced.
When is the right time to replace your old fillings, and what should you do about it when that time comes? We will answer both of those questions in today’s post.
Signs That Your Dental Filling Needs To Be Replaced
We are happy to offer tooth-colored dental fillings at our dentist office, but it’s possible you may have gold or amalgam fillings. Amalgam is a blend of mercury with other metals such as copper, silver, and tin.
Regardless of what kind of filling(s) you have, eventually, it will need to be replaced in time. Fillings have two primary purposes. They restore the function of your teeth, and they protect your teeth against additional decay. (Our tooth-colored fillings also look like a natural part of your smile.)
As a result of normal wear and tear, your fillings will gradually become less effective at protecting your tooth. Fillings can become chipped or cracked. This can create openings where bacteria can get into places where they can’t be removed by brushing or flossing.
Sometimes fillings become worn down as well. They may even start to separate from your teeth. Just like chipped or cracked fillings, this can create an opportunity for bacteria to attack hard to reach places.
The worst-case scenario is when fillings fall out, so bacteria can start eating away at even more of your tooth.
If you are visiting us for regular dental cleanings and exams, we will be looking for signs that your fillings are at the end of their lives. We’ll let you know when they need to be replaced, so hopefully, you can avoid another cavity in that same tooth.
What Should You Do About Your Old Dental Fillings?
When old fillings need to be replaced, there are a couple things you can do.
The first option is getting a new filling. By coming to Edgewood Dental Care, we can replace your old filling with a composite filling.
This is made with a type of resin that can be shaded to match the color of your teeth. After the resin hardens, it can be polished so that it blends in with your tooth. This way, no one will be able to tell that you have a filling.
Many patients who come to us with metal fillings appreciate the fact that our tooth-colored fillings are mercury free. And many people are grateful to have a natural-looking smile once again.
By getting a composite filling, you also restore the protective qualities of your filling, which is even more important.
How long your fillings last will depend on a variety of factors. What you eat and how well you care for your teeth both make a difference. With proper care and maintenance, your composite fillings can last for several years.
It’s also possible that this isn’t the first time you’ve had to replace a filling in the same tooth. Getting a new filling often involves preparing the tooth to receive the replacement filling. Many times, that means removing a little more of the tooth in the process.
This leads us to your other replacement option, which is a dental crown. Over time and multiple replacements, your tooth may not be able to support another filling. When this happens, a dental crown is your best replacement option.
A crown acts as a cap, covering the tooth instead of just filling a hole. And since we offer CEREC same-day dental crowns at our Edgewood, KY office, you can get your crown in a single visit to our office in most cases.
Crowns can last for decades with proper care, and they also look like a natural part of your smile.