Is it Time for a Filling Check?

Fillings come in several different materials, each with their advantages and disadvantages. But no filling lasts forever, and every filling needs to be checked to make sure it is not leaking or the tooth has not cracked.


“Fillings are subject to hard work and constant use,” says Dr. Carol Ford from her Phoenix cosmetic dentistry office. “And just as the heels of shoes wear and need to be replaced, your fillings wear down. But fillings wear differently depending on what the composition is.”

If your fillings are silver amalgam, they are meant to last 10 to 15 years and are strong enough to withstand chewing. Metal fillings are designed to be sturdy and take wear. But metal fillings do have their disadvantages, too, according to an article in WebMD.

Metal doesn’t flex much, so in order to have the tooth hold onto the metal there must be an undercut, or a hollow area with an edge to hold the metal filling. An undercut requires a larger space than a resin or composite filling, even if the cavity is the same size.

“Metal and teeth both expand when they get warm and contract when they get cold, but they do so at different rates. If the metal filling is very large and changes size much faster than the tooth, it’s possible the tooth can crack or even break, “ explains Dr. Ford.

The expansion and contraction can also cause very small cracks around the edges of the filling over time. When this happens, bacteria leaks in around the edges of the filling and the tooth can start to decay again.

Composite fillings are made of a resin that bonds to the tooth. There is no need for an undercut, so the removal of the decay leaves a smaller hole to be filled. However, resin fillings will also not last forever.

Having your dentist check your fillings is a good way to make sure that your fillings are still in good shape and that there is no more decay starting under them. You can keep your teeth longer with regular check-ups, and the decay will be less damaging as well.

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