Is a Cavity Filling a Permanent Solution?
If you’ve ever had tooth decay, your dentist may have treated it by giving you a filling. While fillings are a great long-term solution for treating tooth decay, they are not permanent. You still need to take care of your teeth and mouth. Eventually, your filling will need replacing. Here are some things you need to know about getting a replacement filling.
How often does my filling need replacing?
Fillings are a great solution for treating tooth decay. They are durable and restore the overall strength of your teeth. However, a filling won’t last forever. The shelf life of a filling largely depends on what materials it is made of.
Silver fillings, also known as amalgam fillings, are very durable and can last 15 years before they need to be replaced. One downside to amalgam fillings is that the metals can expand and contract in the mouth. This can cause the surrounding area of the tooth to fracture and crack. It’s always a good idea to get amalgam fillings checked regularly.
These white fillings are made from a polymer composite resin. While they don’t last as long as amalgam fillings, they can last up to seven years. Composite fillings do not expand in your mouth and won’t cause your teeth to crack. However, if you have composite fillings, you should still regularly get them checked by a dentist.
Ceramic fillings are made from porcelain and can last up to fifteen years. Ceramic fillings can be pretty expensive and are generally less common than composite or amalgam fillings.
Why do fillings need to be replaced?
There are a few reasons why a filling might need to be replaced over time.
- Daily wear and tear in the mouth weaken the filling after years of contact with hard foods and hot and cold liquids.
- Chewing can put your fillings under pressure. Over time, your filling material gets weaker and doesn’t protect your tooth in the same way.
- Cracking or tooth trauma can damage your filling and cause it to crack, chip or fall out.
- You may also choose to get a silver filling replaced with something less noticeable, like composite.
How do I know if my filling needs to be replaced?
The best way to know if your filling needs to be replaced is to book an appointment with your dentist. Regular dental checkups every six months ensure that your fillings are strong and protect your teeth from further dental decay and cavities. Your dentist will check your fillings and will be able to tell you if it’s time for a new one.
If you’ve noticed any new changes in your filling, you should book in for a checkup. Changes can include:
- pain in a tooth with a filling
- the filling suddenly feeling sharp
- a cracking sound in a tooth with a filling
- part of the filling coming off in your mouth
How can I make my fillings last longer?
While the materials that fillings are made from generally have a finite shelf life, there are ways you can ensure your fillings last as long as possible.
Your eating habits have a significant impact on the general health of your teeth. Adding raw, crunchy fruits and vegetables (celery, carrots, apples etc.) is an easy way to get your five plus a day and keep your teeth nice and strong. Eating less sugar will help your teeth avoid further cavities.
Dental hygiene is the number one way to make your fillings last—book regular checkups with your dentist every six months. Brush your teeth twice a day and floss regularly.
Wear a mouthguard while playing sport. Dental trauma can cause your tooth and filling to come loose.
Wear a mouthguard while you sleep. If you grind your teeth, this can put extra pressure on your fillings. Wearing a mouth guard to bed will help prevent that additional stress on your teeth.
Avoid hard or sticky foods. Some fillings, like amalgam, are not bonded into the tooth, which means there is a chance they can come loose. Avoid eating sticky or hard foods that might coat your tooth or cause the filling to stick to the surface of the food.
Need a checkup for your fillings? Book an appointment at Gentle Dental today.