Old Fillings: What Can Go Wrong?

Old Fillings: What Can Go Wrong?

Posted by Really Smile Feb 25, 2016

Old Fillings in Carmel, IN

Did you know that over 90 percent of people will end up with a cavity in their lives? That means the odds are pretty good that you have a filling. With how normal they are there’s still a serious deficit of understanding when it comes to fillings: many people never seem to worry about how long they last.

At Really Smile Dentistry we advocate regular checks of your dental fillings, especially if they’re old metal amalgam ones. The average filling only lasts about ten years, so if you have fillings older than that you need to watch out for potential problems!

What Can Go Wrong With Fillings

You probably don’t even think about your fillings on a regular basis, much less worry about their shelf life. Once a filling passes the decade mark there are some pretty good reasons to have it replaced. If not you’re putting the health of the filled tooth in jeopardy.

Cement: It’s Not Forever

Metal amalgam fillings can’t bond to your teeth at all, so they have to be cemented in place. The cement that is used to attach them is strong, and the chances of the filling actually falling out are incredibly slim. What does happen, however, is that the cement wears away near the surface of your tooth.

As the cement wears away you’re left with small, nearly undetectable gaps between the filling and your tooth. Those gaps are open invitations for bacteria to get inside and start causing tooth decay. Cavities on the insides of your teeth can be disastrous, especially since they’re so hard to detect!

Without treatment an internal cavity can end up breaking through the surface of the tooth, causing brittleness, increasing the risk of fracture, or necessitating the placement of a crown. Don’t let your fillings go too long: they can cost you a tooth!

Fractures You’ll Never See

Bones are designed to flex just the slightest bit. If they weren’t you would have to constantly worry about fractures, breaks, and injuries. Your teeth function the exact same way: they flex a little bit to distribute the forces of chewing and other pressures on your teeth. Guess what doesn’t flex at all? Metal amalgam fillings.

Over the life of a filling your tooth is subjected to a lot of force, and the longer the filling is there the greater your chances of microfractures. These tiny, undetectable cracks in your teeth increase your chances of decay, tooth loss, and severe pain.

Because microfractures are so difficult to diagnose they can easily go undetected until they spread, resulting in an unstable tooth that has to be crowned or extracted (depending on the extent of the damage).

Filling Fractures

Your teeth can crack from fillings, and that’s not all: fillings can break too. Metal amalgam is strong, but it isn’t indestructible. A worn filling can crack, and when it does you can end up with the same problems you have with a cracked tooth.

Inspecting your fillings at regular cleanings and exams is essential to your continued oral health. While some of the filling problems you may have are difficult to notice it’s better to know that serious ones, like cracked fillings, aren’t present!

Filling Replacements That Work

We use dental composite fillings at our Carmel office. These tooth colored, invisible fillings are the next evolution in dental filling material, correcting many of the problems that metal filings face.

  • Composite flexes and bends with your teeth for even distribution of force. This helps to avoid microfractures.
  • Unlike metal amalgam, composite bonds directly to your teeth, eliminating the need for cement and eliminating the risks of it wearing away!
  • Composite is harder to break because it’s a bit more malleable, reducing the risk of cracked or damaged fillings.

While dental composite fillings still have a limited life they are a superior choice to metal. They’re built to blend seamlessly with your teeth, are color-matched, and simply work better!

Don’t Take Chances With Old Fillings

If you have a filling that is over a decade old you need to have it inspected at Really Smile Dentistry. Regular cleanings and exams are the best time for us to take a look at your fillings and create a record of your care that will allow us to always know when your fillings’ time is up.

Don’t let a filling ruin your teeth: make an appointment with us today by calling 317-597-8748! You can also request a visit by filling out our online form. We look forward to seeing you soon!

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