Dental fillings are used to repair a decayed, broken or cracked tooth and can last for many years. However, eventually all fillings will need to replaced, whether due to regular wear and tear, for aesthetic reasons or misuse. Filling replacements are a very common procedure, and your options should always be discussed with Dr. Nishimura before proceeding. The most common materials used for filling replacements are tooth-colored composite, ceramic or porcelain and glass ionomer. There are numerous benefits to each type of filling and the best option for you will depend on various factors and Dr. Nishimura’s expert opinion. Many fillings can last upwards of 10 or 15 years, but constant eating and drinking or stress from clenching or grinding will eventually lead to the need for a filling replacement. If you have fillings it is imperative for you to come to our office on a regular basis for an examination. This will allow us to monitor the state of the filling and will also help us detect problems with fillings early on. While you may not be able to tell if your filling is worn and in need of a replacement, Dr. Nishimura will be able to identify any weaknesses during your regular visit.
Reasons for a Dental Filling Replacement
Over time fillings may become worn or pull away from the teeth, leaving gaps at the edges of the filling and providing an entry point for decay-causing bacteria. When a patient initially receives a filling there is a sealant placed between the tooth and the filling. If this seal breaks down, it could mean that food particles and bacteria will be able to work their way between the deteriorating filling and the tooth. Decay is also dangerous to fillings and may develop along the edge of the filling or even underneath it. If left untreated, decay may cause an infection in the dental pulp which may lead to a root canal or extraction. Again, scheduling regular appointments with Dr. Nishimura will increase the chances that a worn filling is detected before it is painful and dangerous to surrounding teeth. Other factors that may affect the longevity, performance and durability of dental fillings include:
- Material of the filling
- Size of filling
- Where and how the filling was placed
- Overall oral health and hygiene of the patient
- The force of chewing that the tooth must bear (especially if one or more of the back teeth are missing)
Dental Filling Replacement Options
The field of dentistry has seen many advances over the last several decades, which means there are new materials and techniques used to create more natural-looking smiles. While gold or silver fillings used to be the only options, there are now ceramic, porcelain and plastic compounds that are used in their place that look like natural teeth. Because there are numerous choices for filling replacements, it is important to set up a consultation with Dr. Nishimura to determine the best filling material for your needs.