Dental fillings will not last forever and if you have restorations that are ten, fifteen or even twenty years old, schedule an appointment with your dentist who can determine if you have dental carries under your existing fillings. According to Colgate, silver amalgam fillings last on average about twelve years. Composite fillings have a shorter lifespan.
Most people have no idea that tooth decay can invade a tooth that has already been filled whether it is a silver amalgam filling or a tooth colored resin filling. Cavities occur if fillings leak, are cracked or simply worn out.
Both composite and silver amalgam fillings can leak. Leaking occurs when the side of the restoration does not fit tightly against and around the tooth. Saliva and food particles can seep between the tooth and the filling, which will eventually lead to discoloration, sensitivity and tooth decay. Both amalgam and resin fillings can leak over time, and should be replaced by your dentist.
Tooth clenching and grinding can also cause filling wear. Not only does grinding and clenching put extra pressure on your fillings, but it can also cause craze lines, cracks, and chips. Craze lines are tiny cracks that your dentist can see when a light is shined on your tooth. If you grind or clench your teeth, it is imperative that you schedule regular checkups with your dentist.
Old composite fillings can become discolored picking up stains causing them to darken and yellow over time. No amount of tooth bleaching will fix the problem as fillings, crowns and other dental restorations will not be affected by tooth whitening products.
Fillings can also fall out if you bite too hard, especially on a larger filling. Biting too hard can crack your filling, but it can also break your tooth.
Both composite and silver amalgam fillings can crack over time even if they have recently been placed. Talk to your dentist if you are experiencing sensitivity to hot and cold, as your fillings may need to be replaced.
If you cannot remember how old your fillings are, or have had issues with new restorations, schedule an appointment with your dentist who will be able to determine which fillings are still sound, and which fillings need to be replaced.