Unlike the ketchup in your fridge or the oil that needs changing in your car, your dental fillings don’t have an expiration date. While that would be kind of nice to know what to plan on, many factors affect how long your fillings last.
When it comes to doing dental exams, our dentists evaluate every filling that you have. All fillings break down over time, and often we can spot signs that a filling is wearing down or starting to show its age. Sometimes the filling condition calls for a replacement soon, and other times we make a note of the signs and check it out again in 6 months.
How Do We Know If Your Filling Is Breaking Down?
Signs that your filling is starting to break down or has broken down may include:
- Staining around your filling’s margins
- Open space between the filling margin and your tooth
- Food getting caught in your filling
- Sensitivity – this could be to hot, cold, or biting pressure
- X-rays can also be a way to tell if your filling is leaking
- Cracks or fracture lines in your fillings
These signs may indicate that you could benefit from a new filling.
What Affects The Longevity Of My Fillings?
Outside of the initial how well your filling was placed, one of the most significant determining factors of a filling’s life is really how you take care of them. Good home care is critical as bacteria that sit on your tooth can lead to cavities forming near the filling edge.
Following these simple at-home routines can help keep your fillings doing their job for the long haul:
- Brush twice a day
- Floss once a day
- Use an electric toothbrush for the best plaque removal
- Swish with fluoride mouth rinse
Can’t I Just Wait Until My Filling Breaks Or Falls Out Before I Replace It?
When it comes to dentistry, it’s good to catch things in their early stages. Waiting until your tire falls off your car before you decide to get new ones isn’t always the best way to invest in a new set of tires. Replacing a filling at early signs of leaking, such as staining around the filling margins, may keep you from needing to deal with even more significant problems down the road. Putting off a simple filling replacement can often mean greater decay and possibly needing more involved treatment, such as a crown or root canal.
Can I Replace My Silver Fillings With White Ones?
Yes, you sure can! We have done this for many of our patients.
If you have silver fillings, ask about our composite fillings next time you are in. Our dentist can evaluate your silver fillings, discuss the process, and answer any questions you have.
What Should I Expect When I Come In To Have My Filling Replaced?
While having an old filling replaced may sound dreadful to you, it’s a simple, one-appointment process.
You will likely be numbed in this area so that you are comfortable when the dentist removes your broken-down filling. Once the filling has been removed, the tooth is prepared to receive the new filling. Your dentist places your new filling, adjusts the height to ensure your bite is correct, and away you go!
Have you noticed any of the above signs in your teeth? Has it been a while since you have seen a dentist? Remember that most big problems start as minor problems that were pushed off for too long. Now is a great time to have your dental health evaluated. Call our dentists today!