Dental caries, or decay, is incredibly common. The National Institutes of Health reports that around 90% of adults between the ages of 20-64 have decay in their teeth. The most common treatment for dental caries is dental filling.
Dr. Stephen Hiroshige and his team want you to enjoy the best dental health possible, and that means helping you avoid cavities, or if you have them, treating the problem quickly and effectively. Most dental fillings last between 7 and 15 years, though the material used makes some difference. This means there’s a good chance you may need to have a filling replaced at some point.
Why you need a filling
The enamel on your teeth and the tight seal of your gums are your two most important natural defenses against bacteria invading and causing decay. However, several common situations can lead to breaches that allow bacteria to cause damage.
For example, one of the most common issues we see is plaque buildup, often because people don’t floss. The plaque hardens into tartar, which irritates your gums and eventually allows bacteria to penetrate the natural seal your gums create. Enamel, too, can become damaged by acidic foods and beverages, and bacteria can get through.
Once bacteria gets through your built-in defenses, decay begins. The only way to treat it is to completely remove the decay and fill the resulting hole.
How fillings work
When Dr. Hiroshige removes the decay, he then fills the resulting hole with a safe and long-lasting material. Most of the time he uses a material called resin that is the same color as your teeth, which means it blends in and isn’t noticeable. Some people choose other materials such as amalgam, gold, or ceramic.
The filling seals your tooth, so that bacteria can’t get in, which protects your tooth. Though fillings are considered a permanent fix for cavities, the truth is, they can wear out or become damaged.
Following are four ways you can tell if your filling needs to be replaced.
If your tooth hurts around where the filling is located, you should get it looked at, especially if it didn’t hurt before but now does.
Just as sensitivity to hot and cold can indicate tooth decay before you get a filling, it can also be a sign that you need to have your filling replaced. Another sign could be sensitivity when you brush.
3. You see a problem
When you look in the mirror and can see a crack, a chip, or other problem with your filling, you should definitely book an appointment.
4. The filling is loose or gone
If you can feel the filling moving around or it has actually fallen out, you need a replacement — and quickly. Schedule an appointment immediately.
Regular checkups are key
One of the best ways to know if you need a filling replaced is by coming in for regular professional cleanings and dental exams. Our staff can spot problems with fillings during exams. If it’s time for a regular visit, or you’re having a problem with a filling, schedule your appointment with Dr. Hiroshige today.