Checking your restorations every now for signs of wear and tear is an extremely important part of your oral healthcare routine. That’s because the filling can weaken (especially at the margins), form rough edges, and eventually breakdown over time. Weakened and rough fillings encourage plaque accumulation as plaque removal in these areas can be pretty challenging. Plaque accumulation, as we know, can lead to tooth decay – this time, a recurrent decay underneath the tooth filling. Here are some tips on how to prevent that, along with other tips that can make your fillings last for as long as possible.
Discolored Restorations: Tooth-colored fillings, especially ones made from composite, can easily pick up stains causing them to become discolored over time. To prevent this, it is advised that you avoid eating too much dark-colored foods and beverages like berries, dark sauces, tea, and coffee (to name a few). Also, be sure to brush your teeth thoroughly to get rid on any surface stains.
Cracked Restorations: Both amalgam and composite fillings can crack soon after placement or after some time. Cracks in amalgam restoration may occur soon after if it is overfilled or placed too high than the rest of the remaining tooth structure. Small cracks on the edges can occur as the restoration is subjected to biting forces over time. Meanwhile, composite fillings wear out faster than other restorative materials so be sure to have them checked regularly, especially if they are located in the back teeth. If you clench or grind your teeth, you’ll have even more problems with your restoration because greater biting force exerted upon it.
Leaking Restorations: A restoration is said to be leaking when its margins doesn’t fit tightly against the tooth structure. Plaque, debris, and seep through between the filling and the tooth, and this can lead to problems like discoloration, sensitivity, and decay. Amalgam and composite fillings can both leak. Amalgam filling leaks after it is placed, and this can manifest as sensitivity that lasts for a few days. It disappears over time, though, as the material corrodes and the corrosion products seal the edges of the filling thereby stopping the leak. Composite restorations, meanwhile, may leak because of the so-called polymerization shrinkage. It may also be due to the weakening of bond between the tooth structure and the restorative material. If you experience any symptoms with your restored teeth, which in most cases is extreme sensitivity, consult your dentist as soon as you can.
Worn-out Restorations: If cared for properly, restorations can last anywhere from five to 15 years (or even longer), depending on which restorative it is made of. To determine if your filling is already due for replacement, have it checked by your dentist. He or she will conduct an oral exam and require x-rays as necessary. X-rays are often requested in cases where recurrent decay underneath the filling is suspected.
Replacing Your Restorations: When replacing your fillings, your dentist will first discuss all the available options for you. That is, after diagnosing your case and determining the most suitable restorative material to use. You may tell your dentist how you want the restoration to look. You may ask for more affordable options if your budget is limited. Lastly, no matter what new restoration your dentist comes up with, be sure to heed his or her advice when it comes to oral hygiene and proper care of the restoration.