do fillings need to be replaced

Do Fillings Ever Need to Be Replaced?

Cavities are extremely common, so most adults have at least one filling. However, fillings don’t last forever. If your fillings are old, loose, or made of outdated materials, it may be time to replace them. At Lifetime Family Dental, we can replace broken or amalgam fillings with composite resin fillings to protect your teeth. Let’s talk more about when fillings need to be replaced and whether it’s time to replace yours.   

How Long Do Fillings Last?

Amalgam Fillings

Metal amalgam, or “silver” fillings can last up to 25 years. However, there are many drawbacks to amalgam fillings that often lead people to replace them sooner. For example, amalgam fillings can cause tooth sensitivity because they don’t properly insulate your teeth. They can also damage your teeth when they expand or contract due to hot or cold foods and drinks. Plus, metal fillings are much more noticeable than composite fillings. 

Composite Fillings

Composite fillings don’t last as long as amalgam fillings—only up to 15 years—but they do offer more benefits. For instance, composite fillings look more natural in your teeth. Composite fillings are also less likely to fall out compared to silver fillings because they don’t expand or contract. 

Four Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Fillings

1: The Filling Is Cracked or Loose

A filling can crack or get loose due to wear and tear or from an injury to the mouth. Cracked or loose fillings allow cavities to develop underneath. Bacteria can then reach the inside of your tooth, causing pain and sensitivity. Damaged fillings are also more likely to fall out, which puts your teeth at further risk. 

Because they expand and contract when in contact with extreme temperatures, amalgam fillings are more likely to crack, loosen, or fall out. A metal taste in your mouth is often a sign that your amalgam fillings have cracked, which is a dental emergency. If you notice any visible damage to your fillings, or if they become loose or fall out, you need to replace them immediately in order to protect your teeth. 

2: You Experience Tooth Pain, Sensitivity, or Pressure

Tooth pain typically occurs when the sensitive pulp of your tooth becomes inflamed. Exposure to hot or cold temperatures and sugary or acidic foods and drinks can also cause mild tooth pain or tooth sensitivity. The feeling of pressure in a tooth when biting or chewing could also be a sign of a problem.

Whether it’s occasional pain while you eat or a constant throbbing, a toothache could be a sign you need to replace your fillings. Tooth pain, sensitivity, and pressure in a tooth that has a filling is likely a sign that the filling has worn out or cracked. Failing to replace a damaged filling will only lead to more pain, and can even cause a dangerous infection of your tooth pulp called an abscess.  

3: Your Floss Tears

If your floss tears or frays whenever you clean between two teeth, it could be a sign the tooth has cracked. If the cracked tooth has a filling, the filling will likely need to be replaced. However, even if a cracked tooth doesn’t have a filling, you should still seek immediate treatment. Cracked teeth are vulnerable to infections that can spread throughout your body if left untreated. 

4: The Filling Is Too Old

Fillings last a long time if you take care of your teeth. However, all fillings eventually do wear out. If you have any fillings that are over 15 years old, it’s time to talk to your dentist about replacing them. It’s better to replace your fillings before they crack or wear out to keep your teeth safe.

Does Replacing a Filling Hurt?

Even if you don’t notice any signs it’s time to replace your fillings, your dentist may identify weak spots during a routine exam. If your dentist suggests replacing your fillings, or if you notice any of the above signs, don’t panic! Filling replacement is a lot like getting a filling the first time, and it won’t hurt at all. You may feel some slight pressure, but because a local anesthetic is used to numb your mouth, you won’t feel any pain during the procedure. 

Gentle Dentist in Gilbert

If you’ve cracked a tooth, lost a filling, or think it’s time to get replacements, contact Lifetime Family Dental. When fillings need to be replaced, our compassionate team has got you covered. We will provide you with the best solution to restore your dental health and your smile. Call us at 480-558-4331 to make an appointment today. 

Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (6/8/2022). Photo by LOGAN WEAVER | @LGNWVR on Unsplash