Dental fillings are intended to restore or replace the tooth structure that has been lost to decay. These fillings may remain functional for many years. However, constant pounding from eating and drinking, particularly from clenching and grinding may be a fundamental reason for dental fillings to fail and need replacing at a later time.
When a dental filling is chipped, cracked, worn away or falls out, minor gaps are created between the tooth and filling. These gaps work as an entry point for bacteria and food particles to initiate tooth decay that may develop along the edge of the filling or underneath it. It is not easy to remove these decay-causing bacteria with a toothbrush or other means. If decay goes undiagnosed and untreated, infection may develop in the dental pulp which may eventually result in the need for root canal or, in severe case, loss of tooth.
In general, problems associated with existing dental fillings can be identified at the early stage. Therefore, regular dental examination is of paramount importance to forestall any undesirable consequence. You may not be able to sense that your dental filling starts wearing away, but your dentist can easily find out any flaws in it during your regular checkup. Dentists always examine the status of your dental fillings and determine if the existing fillings are in good condition or if they have lost their intact coherence and disintegrated in any possible way. An instrument called an explorer is used to detect worn away spots along the edge of the fillings. While determining the integrity of dental fillings, this instrument helps your dentist ascertain whether you need a replacement or not.
In order to detect decay underneath the fillings or between teeth, dental x-rays may help the dentist assess the level of decay that are not seen simply by visual examination. If evidence from dental x-rays depicts that a filling has failed or a tooth has started decaying underneath the filling, your dentist is most likely to recommend you a prompt replacement that can prevent the case from being worse. In brief, you should not wait until you feel a toothache, or a crack is blatantly visible. Early identification can significantly minimize the need for exhaustive and costly treatment procedures.
Dental fillings may also be replaced even if they are still intact and not failing. In the case of dental fillings that were done using amalgam, a patient may request it to be replaced with composite. Amalgam, commonly referred to as silver fillings, is a mixture of copper, silver, tin and mercury. This material is no longer used by our Burnaby Dentists as concerns have been raised about the use of amalgam because it contains mercury.
New techniques and advancement in material technology have enabled researchers to develop filling materials that perfectly imitate the appearance of a natural tooth making the filling much less visible. The dentists at North Burnaby Dental Group use composite for fillings. While giving a tooth-colored restoration, composite fillings are made from acrylic resins and finely ground glass-like bits. They are sufficiently durable and crack-resistant and can withstand moderate chewing load.
The ultimate decision on when a filling should be replaced is best determined by your dentist in a patient consultation. The dentists at North Burnaby Dental Group are happy to answer any questions you have about fillings and treatments. Please feel free to give us a call.