They say nothing lasts forever – and dental fillings are no different.
Filled teeth are never as strong as unfilled teeth. Very rarely do fillings last a lifetime and at some point, need to be replaced. Sometimes the reasons for fillings needing to be replaced are obvious – such as when one falls out. Other times, your dentist will be able to determine if your filling needs a replacement. Fillings may need to be replaced after several years or sometimes even a few months. It will all depend on the state of the restoration at the time.
Reasons why fillings need replacing
There are several reasons why your fillings will need to be replaced. These reasons range from everyday wear and tear to acute damage. The main reasons why fillings need replacement are as follows:
Tooth decay: Believe it or not, decay can form beneath a filling. If you do not look after your teeth in terms of your oral hygiene and diet, decay can set in. This is just as likely under an existing filling. his can occur whether or not there is a problem with the filling. But if restoration cracks or leaks, decay can set in very quickly. You may not even realise that you have decay beneath your filling. That is why you need to ensure that your dentist is checking your fillings to ensure that any possible issues can be seen before they worsen.
Damage to a filling: Clenching, grinding or accidents can cause a filling to become worn down or to break. If this is the case, it will need to be replaced. Other ways that a filling can become damaged are from normal chewing forces or by simply biting down on something that is hard.
Large fillings: Large fillings may be unable to withstand physical forces in the mouth. Teeth that have large restorations are more likely to be weak and therefore at risk of fracturing. If a tooth fractures the filling will often fall out.
Discolouration: White fillings are great, because they blend in seamlessly with your tooth, giving a natural appearance. This is unless they become discoloured. White fillings can gather staining, especially at the edges. This is usually treated by smoothing down the edges but sometimes replacement is needed to get an acceptable result.
Leaking fillings: If a gap opens between your filling and the tooth, it is referred to as a “leaking filling.” Even small leaks will allow food debris, saliva and plaque bacteria into the gap. When this happens, you are at risk for developing decay and/or sensitivity.
Regular dental examinations are important since these types of issues with existing fillings generally can be detected in the early stage. Although you may not be able to tell that your filling is worn, your dentist will be able to identify any weaknesses in it during a regular check-up.