Bakersfield, CA – Dental fillings help restore teeth to their normal function and prevent decay. We use them after a tooth has been damaged by a cavity or other damage. Its purpose is to restore the tooth structure that was lost.
While your dental fillings can last for many years, they more than likely won’t last a lifetime and will probably require replacement at some point.
Our tooth enamel takes a beating every day – from crunching down while eating, introducing hot and cold temperature while drinking, clenching, grinding, and using our teeth as tools, it’s no wonder our enamel has to be the strongest substance in our bodies. And it’s no wonder that dental fillings can sometimes become cracked, chipped, or worn away over time.
On average, a dental filling will last about 12 years. Amalgam and composite fillings have a great life, but will eventually need to be replaced.
When your dentist repairs your tooth, he drills out the decayed area of the tooth, then fills the hole with the filling. After years of wear, these fillings can begin to fail, leaving areas where food particles and bacteria can enter the tooth, creating new decay.
These areas are often difficult for your toothbrush to reach, and new decay can set in around the edges of the filling or even underneath it. If you aren’t regularly visiting a dentist and ensuring your current fillings are still strong, and this decay goes untreated, it can infiltrate and infect the pulp of your teeth, causing pain and irritation. This can lead to the need for a root canal and sometimes even the loss of the tooth.
If you are visiting a dentist every six months, your dentist can keep an eye on the health of your fillings, and if he notices any weaknesses, correct them before more serious issues occur.
During my examination, I use a tool called an explorer to look for any weak or worn spots around the edge of the filling. This helps me ensure the filling is adequately sealed to the edges of the tooth.
If we find a filling that is starting to wear out, we use x-rays to determine if any decay might have already set in. If I think a filling is starting to wear out, or if I find any decay under the existing filling, it will be necessary to remove the old filling and replace it with a new one immediately.
We also recommend patients have older silver filling replaced. These fillings, while they don’t pose a health risk, are associated with a few oral health issues.
For example, if the filling has started to wear down, and decay has started to set in, the filling makes it almost impossible to detect the decay on an x-ray. These fillings can essentially hide additional damage to the tooth, which the patient doesn’t know about until they get a toothache, a cracked or broken tooth down the road.
When it comes to replacing your old filling, your dentist will most likely use amalgam or composite. Amalgam is a mixture of silver, copper, tin and mercury, which when combined, form a strong and stable material that is highly resistant to wear. Composite fillings are made of a mixture of acrylic resin and ground glass-like particles that provide durability and excellent resistance to fracture.
I prefer non-metal fillings for all of my restoration work, as they are strong and can blend in seamlessly with your smile. Restorations don’t have to show, and non-metal fillings restore and protect the tooth beautifully.
If you are wondering about the state of your fillings, schedule an appointment today.
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