Dental fillings are a concern you don't think about until a filling falls out or starts to erode. Dental fillings have a life span of around a decade or so, but some fillings can last twice as long, while others don't make it to 10 years.
Do your dental fillings need to be replaced? Use this guide, along with the advice of your dentist during your routine checkup, to find out if you do.
Your Fillings Feel Different
Over time, dental fillings start to wear down, which can leave the surface area of your teeth feeling gritty or like something hard is stuck in your teeth. Fillings should be smooth, but constant chewing and age will cause them to become brittle and feel strange to the touch.
You may also notice your bite changing as your fillings wear out; your bite may overcompensate for the changing in your teeth surfaces, causing discomfort or even pain when you bite down.
Your Teeth Are Discolored
Do you see an odd black or dark ring around the base of a tooth where a filling (especially a silver filling) is located? If so, your filling needs to be replaced. A dark ring is an indication that tooth enamel has worn around the filling's edges or that the filling itself is deteriorating and causing dental decay or other tooth damage. Silver fillings will also change overall tooth color with time.
Your Teeth Hurt
As fillings wear out, parts of your teeth become exposed to air, causing cold or hot temperature foods and beverages to sting or be painful when consuming. Painful teeth due to a deteriorating filling can also be related to dental decay, infected tooth pulp, or a cracked or damaged tooth that is left fragile where a filling used to be.
If a filling has damaged your tooth as it wears out, then your dentist will place a crown over your tooth to protect the healthy part of your tooth. Don't ignore any dental pain as failure to see the dentist in a timely fashion can lead to tooth decay, rot, or even nerve death in your tooth. A severely damaged tooth will need to be pulled or have extensive dental work done on it.
Your Teeth Get Food Stuck in Them
Cracks and crevices in a failing filling will allow food debris to get caught in your teeth. Because cracked fillings are hard to clean, bacteria from decaying food can cause future cavities (especially in the areas immediately surrounding a faulty filling).
Your Fillings Are Noticeable
Upgrading to tooth-colored fillings gives your mouth a more youthful, attractive appearance. Since silver fillings are highly noticeable, especially when they are placed on your front or lower teeth, talk to your dentist to see if replacing them with modern filling options is best for you.
Your Fillings Are Older
If you've had the same fillings in your mouth since you were a child or your fillings are very old, then it's time to have them replaced. How often you’ll need to replace them depends on the type of material you use for your dental filling replacement. Common filling materials include:
Your dentist will tell you the pros and cons of each type of filling and give you the average costs to have these fillings done.
Your dental fillings will not last a lifetime, but with proper care and regular dental checkups, you can experience healthy teeth no matter how old your fillings are. Trust the dental expertise of Dr. Bradley Cohn, D.D.S., for all your dental needs. Call us to make an appointment today.