February 17, 2016
It’s a simple fact that everything ages. We get older, our kids grow up, our teeth change, and even our fillings don’t last forever. That fact surprises a lot of people. They assume that a filling will be around as long as their tooth, but unfortunately that isn’t true.
No matter the kind of dental filling you get at our Belleville dentist office or elsewhere they chances of failure or wear hit a critical point at about 10 years. After that a filling has chances to fail in a variety of ways, leaving you with the potential for serious harm.
Fillings: What Goes Wrong?
Your mouth is a constant buzz of activity, and your fillings are right in the thick of it. They deal with pressures from chewing, different liquids and foods, oral bacteria, and the acid the bacteria creates. FIllings are basically entering an active war zone from the moment they’re placed in your mouth, and they aren’t on anyone’s side.
Fillings: Can They “Leak?”
People hear the term leaky filling and they assume we’re talking about some sort of toxic mercury poisoning or something equally deadly – that isn’t it. Fillings that leak are fillings that have started to let bacteria inside your tooth.
Metal fillings (the most traditional kind) aren’t able to actually bond with your teeth. In order to get them to stay in place they have to be cemented in, which works great for most of the life of the filling. Once they start to get old, however, you’ll probably have lost a bit of the cement to the gradual wear and tear that happens over time. A filling that isn’t perfectly sealed can let bacteria under the surface of the tooth, leading to decay that is far more dangerous than the average cavity.
Tooth decay inside a tooth is very hard to detect. In many cases we won’t even catch a filling there until it has already done a lot of damage! Patients who have been unfortunate enough to reach that stage often end up needing a crown because of the extensive damage to the tooth. And it all goes back to an old filling!
Microfractures: Dangerous For Your Teeth
There’s another problem with fillings – specifically metal ones – that involve their ability to distribute forces. Your teeth are able to bend ever so slightly to absorb the force of chewing, grinding, and any other pressure you put on them. Slap a chunk of metal in the middle of one of those perfectly calibrated teeth and you have an object that won’t budge along with them.
The difference in force distribution between a tooth and a filling is enough to eventually cause microfractures: small, practically invisible cracks in your teeth that let bacteria in. Over time a microfracture can just get worse, leading to serious decay, fracture, or infection.
This risk only becomes greater the longer a filling is left in the tooth. The continued identical pressures can end up causing more and more damage that goes undetected until things become so serious that extraction could be necessary.
Fillings Break Too!
Microfractures of the teeth are serious, but they aren’t the only part of the equation that can end up cracking or becoming damaged. Old fillings sometimes hit a point where they just start to wear and break down to the point that they actually fracture.
Fractured fillings – you guessed it – let bacteria into the tooth, causing internal decay that can lead to total tooth destruction. Regular dental appointments will allow us to detect damage to fillings and teeth and take action before it becomes too serious. A fractured filling can do just as much to spell the death of a healthy tooth as an actual tooth fracture can. The longer it goes undetected the worse your chances are to only need a simple filling replacement.
Maintain A Healthy Smile By Keeping Those Fillings Checked
Regular dental cleanings and exams at our Belleville dentist office are the only sure-fire way to keep an eye on aging fillings. Most patients never have problems with theirs, and plenty of people see us regularly enough that we’re able to get old fillings replaced before there’s ever a chance of trouble.
Catching these potential problems is only possible if we’re able to see you every six months! Don’t let an old filling ruin your smile when we can easily prevent it from happening with great proactive care!
If you’re approaching the decade mark with your filling don’t wait: make an appointment today by calling 618-219-1412! You can also request an appointment by filling out our online form. We look forward to seeing you soon!