- January 29, 2016
Do you know how long the average filling is meant to last? It might come as a surprise to learn that they aren’t supposed to be permanent. In fact, the average metal filling has a life expectancy of only about ten years! After that, various problems can start to develop, leading to cavities and even the need for a crown or extraction!
At Shorewood Family Dental Care we’re proud to offer tooth-colored composite fillings that blend into your smile perfectly. We are able to replace old metal fillings with new ones you won’t even notice, but there’s an important factor to consider: the longer you wait after the ten year mark the greater your chances of that old filling causing trouble!
Why Filings Go Bad
Traditional fillings are made from metal amalgam, a mix of various metals all designed to create a long-lasting, stable, reliable replacement for the natural material of your teeth. But there’s one thing that metal definitely can’t do: bond to your teeth. That’s where dental cement comes in: it holds your filling in place pretty reliably but it doesn’t last forever.
By around the ten year mark dental cement will have worn away quite a bit. This may not make your filling loose, but it will create plenty of tiny, invisible gaps between your filling and your tooth where bacteria can get in. Once it’s there it can start causing tooth decay below the surface, resulting in undetectable cavities that are incredibly dangerous. That’s what makes them so risky: you won’t see those cavities until they start causing pain or break the surface of a tooth!
Waiting to replace an old metal filling can cause serious harm to the filled tooth, resulting in the need for a crown or other dental restoration rather than just a fresh filling. If subsurface cavities are allowed to spread then can end up destabilizing the tooth to the point where it’s ready to fracture. The only way to protect it is to remove the filling and the damaged portions of the tooth, then place it under a crown for protection.
Replacing A Metal Filling With Amalgam: Why?
Metal fillings work, and they have worked for a very long time. Technology changes, though, and the development of tough, lifelike, and long-lasting dental composites makes metal fillings obsolete. Composite is a mixture of plastic and glass that looks, feels, and behaves just like your natural teeth, making it a vastly superior choice.
One of the most common problems that metal fillings create is microfractures on your teeth. These microscopic cracks let bacteria in but are incredibly hard to diagnose. They happen because a metal filling simply doesn’t flex and give in the same way as a natural tooth.
Your teeth are designed to flex ever so slightly to allow chewing forces to be distributed. Put a nice big block of inflexible metal in the middle of a tooth and you end up with bad force distribution. Composite filling, on the other hand, are meant to flex like natural teeth, preventing those microfractures from ever happening.
Composite fillings also eliminate the need for dental cement, giving them a potentially longer lifespan than metal fillings. Dental composite is formulated to bond to the bone of your teeth and form a strong, permanent seal that will never allow bacteria in. That seal won’t degrade over time and will stay just as tough as the day it was created. You won’t see your filling or its age with composite!
Composite fillings also don’t need to be as large either, though this is more of a consideration for a new filling than a replacement. Because metal fillings don’t bond to the tooth an extra channel needs to be drilled out to give it something to hang onto. With composite we’ll never need to remove more than just the cavity, so you’ll be left with more of your healthy, natural tooth. We never want to remove healthy tissue when we can help it!
Don’t Procrastinate On A Filling Replacement!
If you have a filling that is ten years of age or older don’t let it sit there any longer: get it examined so we can be sure it’s in good shape. If it isn’t we can save your tooth with a brand-new composite filling!
To schedule an appointment at Shorewood Family Dental Care call our office today at 815-768-1615 or request an appointment by filling out our online form. We look forward to seeing you soon!