If you have ever had a cavity in a tooth, you most likely have had a dentist fix it for you with a filling. However, that doesn't mean that you can forget about it forever. Fillings can last a long time, but most do not last forever. They can wear out, break, and need to be replaced. Most silver amalgam fillings last about 10-15 years, and composite fillings sometimes need replacement even sooner. Here's a look at some signs your filling needs to be replaced—and what the replacement process entails.
Signs Your Filling Needs To Be Replaced
A few different things can happen that cause a filling to require replacement:
The filling can crack: If you feel or hear a cracking noise if you bite down on some food with the filled tooth, it's a good idea to have it checked out by your dentist. Other signs that your filling may have cracked include pain in the tooth, sensitivity to hot and cold foods, and a suddenly rough texture when you run your tongue over the tooth.
Bacteria can eat away the tooth tissue around the filling: Bacteria can sometimes work their way down between the filling and your natural tooth. They cause additional decay, which loosens the filling. Signs this is happening include sensitivity to hot and cold foods, bad breath, pain, and the filling falling out completely.
Composite fillings can become discolored: If your filling is made from composite resin and is visible when you smile, you may notice that it becomes stained and discolored over time. This does not necessarily mean it needs to be replaced—but many patients prefer to have discolored fillings replaced for the sake of appearance.
Obviously, if your filling falls out for any reason, that's also a sign you need it replaced. Make sure you do so sooner rather than later. Leaving the space unfilled can lead to additional decay.
Replacing the Filling
The process of having the filling replaced is pretty simple. After numbing the area, your dentist will use a drill or file to remove the old filling material and also any decayed tooth matter. Then, a new filling will be put into place and allowed to harden before your dentist files it down to the proper level.
Replacing a filling is not an uncommon procedure. If you have one that's discolored, cracked, or missing, be sure to contact your dentist as soon as possible. For more information, check out companies like Peninsula Community Health Services- Medical (Cottonwood).