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When Is It Appropriate to Replace My Old Fillings?

When Is It Appropriate to Replace My Old Fillings?

Dental fillings play a vital role in restoring teeth damaged by decay or trauma. While fillings last a long time, constant wear and tear mean most fillings eventually need to be replaced to ensure your tooth stays healthy. The question: How do you know when it’s time for a new filling?

As a leading dentist in Glendora, California, Park Place SmilesMinal Patel, DDS, is skilled in replacing existing fillings for both health and aesthetic reasons. Here are eight reasons why you might want to replace your old fillings.

1. You have new decay in the tooth

While your old filling treated an earlier episode of decay, it can’t prevent a new cavity from forming. When that happens, the old filling needs to be removed and replaced to maintain oral health and the integrity of your tooth. A tooth that’s cracked or chipped probably will require a new filling, as well.

2. The filling is damaged

Sometimes, it’s the filling itself that becomes damaged. While fillings are designed to be sturdy and durable, they’re not indestructible. When a filling is cracked or chipped, it’s time to replace it with a new filling to continue to protect the tooth and prevent further problems.

3. You have an abscess or tooth pain

If the interior portion of your tooth (called the pulp) or the tooth root becomes infected, you’ll likely need to have the filling removed to access and remove decayed or damaged tooth material. Typically, these issues require a root canal to preserve the tooth, along with a new filling and a crown to add strength and protection.

4. The tooth shape has changed

Fillings are designed to hug the contours of your tooth, creating a seal that helps prevent further decay. If your tooth becomes worn or chipped over time, there’s a good chance your filling will need to be replaced.

5. The filling is very old

Fillings are designed to last a long time, but they’re not intended to last forever. Years of biting and chewing take their toll on fillings, eventually wearing them down and making them less effective. If you grind your teeth, that wear can be even more dramatic. Replacing a worn filling ensures the tooth remains protected from bacteria that can cause decay.

6. You want a better-looking smile

Once upon a time, all fillings were made of metal. The most common type of metal fillings relied on an amalgam of several kinds of metals. While these fillings look bright and shiny when first applied, they quickly turn dark, becoming highly visible. Replacing old, dark fillings with modern tooth-colored fillings can dramatically improve your smile aesthetics and help you feel more confident, too.

7. You want to eliminate mercury fillings

Metal amalgam fillings are made of a combination of metals, including zinc, tin, silver, and mercury. Many people decide to replace old metal amalgam fillings with new composite fillings to eliminate the potential negative health effects associated with mercury exposure, especially if the fillings are very old or worn.

8. You want to take advantage of advances in materials

Tooth-colored fillings don’t just look great (in fact, they’re pretty much invisible) — they also bind better with your natural tooth material. That means the seal they create is more effective in preventing future decay. Many people opt to have old fillings replaced with newer composite fillings to help prevent problems in the future.

While dental fillings are definitely durable and effective in treating cavities, they’re not indestructible — and they’re not designed to last forever. Replacing old fillings can improve your oral health, prevent future problems, and help you feel more confident about your smile.

To find out if any of your fillings should be replaced, call 626-226-1802 or book an appointment online with Park Place Smiles today.

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