The lifespan of a dental filling can be highly variable and depends upon the type of filling you or your child has and in what particular tooth the dental work was completed. Fillings can become discolored, stained, cracked, and simply worn out over time.
It is also possible that decay can occur beneath a broken or leaking filling. If there is any breakdown in the margin where a filling meets the tooth material, food and bacteria gets in and cannot be cleaned out. This needs to be watched closely for by your dentist as this situation can rapidly lead to quickly advancing decay toward the nerve center of the tooth.
This is why regular checkups with your dentist is important. They not only clean your teeth and assist your gums in being their most healthy state. But they look for new cavities and try to stop them while they are small as possible while screening prior fillings for breakdown.
Worn Out Or Damaged Fillings
Fillings don’t last forever, and every time you bite, your fillings are put to the test. Just like miles put on tires or brakes, eventually the wear and tear of functioning teeth and jaws can add up and lead to fillings that need replacement. Biting down hard by accident can even knock out or fracture your filling!
You definitely need replacements for:
- Fillings that fell out – because of injury, breakdown or failure of a tooth colored filling adhesion to the tooth
- Cracked or leaking fillings – where breakdown occurs along the line where a filling meets the remaining tooth structure
- Worn out fillings – amalgam fillings can last up to 15 years, while composite last 7 to 10 years, but depending on your dental health and functional habits, fillings may need replacement in as little as 5 years
Signs your filling may need replacement:
- tooth sensitivity or toothache
- visible crack damage
- visible missing chunk of filling
- significant discoloration of the filling or adjacent tooth material
You may need X-rays to diagnose what’s wrong with the filling, and if there’s decay underneath.
Repairing or Replacing A Filling
If there’s no decay, it may be possible to repair a filling instead of replacing it entirely. Your dentist will discuss your options, including what type of material you would like to use for the filling if it is a full replacement. Baby teeth and adult teeth have very different anatomy and certain fillings are better for each tooth type and situation. Our dentists are happy to discuss this with you while treatment planning for your child’s dental needs.
Our number one tip is to stay current on your examinations and recall cleaning appointments. This is our opportunity to clean the teeth and around the gums to best detect any dental problems and catch them in their infancy. Our main goal is prevention but we are here when problems do arise to solve them in the most proficient and patient friendly manner possible.
About Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists of Michigan, the offices of Drs. Plunkett, Ralstrom, Makowski, Thanasas, Ker, and Associates
Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists of Michigan have specialized in pediatric dentistry and orthodontics since 1968. Our family-friendly and newly renovated office gives patients and families a more comfortable and consistent experience with dentistry from the very beginning. Our pediatric dentists treat children from newborn to 18 years of age while our orthodontists provide care for both children and adults and are proud to be Premier Providers of Invisalign and Invisalign Teen services. The ability to treat all patients with compassion and individuality, including those that may have special needs reaches beyond our facility, which has treatment rooms available for children who require additional privacy and customized care options. We pioneered valued hospital affiliations to allow dental services to be performed at DMC Children’s Hospital and St. John Macomb Hospital, when appropriate or necessary, and our specialists are also proud to be on staff at Henry Ford and Beaumont hospitals.