Fillings provide an ideal way to replace areas of a tooth lost to decay. However, the filling itself can become worn down over time due to the stress it is placed under throughout each day. Additionally, any changes in the structure of your tooth may result in the filling starting to separate.
As such, dentists will often recommend that you have a filling replaced when it has become old or worn. It can be tempting to delay such a procedure, but replacing a dental filling comes with several benefits.
Here are just four.
1. Prevent Further Decay
If a filling sustains damage or starts to separate from the tooth it is meant to protect, bacteria can invade the space between the filling and your tooth. Such bacteria can cause decay, and their location means that they cannot be cleaned away through regular brushing and flossing. This is generally more problematic than decay elsewhere on the tooth since it will occur closer to the pulp and nerve. By getting the filling replaced, you'll help prevent such decay from developing.
2. Control Discomfort
As fillings start to age, they often cause discomfort in the form of increasing sensitivity. You may suddenly notice the tooth in question feeling uncomfortably sensitive when you eat or drink something particularly hot or cold, or when you apply pressure during brushing and flossing. When fillings become damaged, you can even experience sharp pain when chewing food. Such discomfort can really start to impact your quality of life, so it makes sense to avoid such issues by replacing old or damaged fillings.
3. Take Advantage of New Materials
If one of your fillings needs to be replaced, there's a good chance filling materials have advanced since it was applied. Newer filling materials can offer longer lifespans, better reaction to changing temperatures, and added strength compared to older materials. Perhaps most importantly for many patients, new filling materials also tend to be more visually discreet since they can be matched to the colour of your teeth. The difference will be particularly noticeable when you replace an amalgam or gold filling with a composite, glass ionomer, or porcelain filling.
4. Prevent Complete Failures
If one of your fillings is getting towards the end of its life, it's unlikely to be as strong as it once was. Chips or cracks can develop, and any further tooth decay will weaken the surface against which a filling sits. As such, older fillings are more likely to simply fall out, which can produce a lot of discomfort and require immediate assistance. Since a filling also helps maintain the structural integrity of your natural teeth, relying on an old filling may lead to the tooth itself breaking apart.