Let’s check out four reasons why you may have to change your old fillings.
1. You Have a Cavity Under Your Filling
What do you mean? Some people think that once you have a cavity filled another cavity can’t occur on that tooth. Unfortunately, that filling isn’t the unfailing fortress that you may think. With enough bacteria around the teeth your fillings can fail, or new cavities can occur on a different surface on the same tooth. This new cavity can sometimes spread to the site of the old filling, causing it to fail as well. We can usually detect this type of behaviour with regular x-rays at check ups.
2. The Filling is Chipped or Cracked
Chipping sometimes happens when fillings are placed on areas of the tooth that are under pressure, especially with patients who grind their teeth. These chips can lead to food traps (you don’t want these), cavities (ditto) or… more fillings. This is one of the main reasons why I recommend a night guard to patients who clench or grind their teeth.
3. Discoloured Fillings Affect Your Smile
For obvious reasons, we use white dental fillings on cavities where we can. Sometimes, however, these fillings become discoloured, especially when placed on the front teeth. Tea, coffee, cigarettes and other strong staining agents (yes, red wine is in the mix) tend to be the main causes. Unfortunately, these stains can’t be fixed by bleaching, since bleaching doesn’t affect fillings. If these stains are in the smile area, the fillings will need to be changed. How quickly these stains develop has to do with how much of these staining agents are consumed and how frequently.
4. An Amalgam Filling That Has Had Corrosion
Old amalgam fillings (also sometimes referred to as silver or mercury fillings) stay in place on your teeth mechanically. These fillings are unsightly to start with, and over time, the acid–base reactions triggered in the mouth by food, drink and saliva will eventually corrode these fillings, making them even darker. The corrosion also creates a gap between the tooth structure and filling that will lead to a cavity and the possibility of chips and fractures of the teeth. When this happens, the fillings need to be replaced quickly to avoid further dental treatments.