Do Dental Fillings Need To Be Replaced? Everything You Need To Know

Wondering if that old filling in the back of your mouth needs to be replaced? The answer may surprise you. In this blog from Mary Qian Dental Group, we’ll discuss the basics about filling replacement, when it’s necessary to replace an old filling, and much more. Read on and get all the details. 


Yes, Dental Fillings Need To Be Replaced As They Wear Out

Dental work doesn’t last forever. And while dentists use durable, long-lasting materials to create dental fillings, your restorations will eventually wear out. If you have some really old fillings, they may need to be replaced. 


This is because as fillings wear down, gaps open up between them and your enamel. Food particles, acid, and bacteria can build up in these gaps. This, in turn, leads to tooth decay that can seriously damage your tooth.

The good news is that filling replacement is easy. It’s almost identical to the initial filling placement procedure. Dr. Mary Qian will simply remove the old filling material, clean the surrounding tooth, and then replace it with brand-new material. This seals the tooth, protecting it for years to come. 


How Long Do Dental Fillings Typically Last?

This mostly depends on the type of material that’s used to create your filling. Metal-amalgam fillings, which were the most common type of filling in the past, usually last for about 10-20 years. However, this type of filling is a lot harder to remove and replace. Removing metal fillings requires special techniques and equipment since they contain mercury.

Glass ionomer and composite (tooth-colored) fillings usually have a lifespan of 5-8 years, though some can easily last more than 10 years with proper care. These are just “rules of thumb” though. To make sure your fillings are in good shape, you should definitely schedule an appointment with a dentist like Dr. Qian.


What Causes Fillings To Wear Over Time?

The same things that cause wear to your natural teeth! Normal biting and chewing contribute to wear and tear. Teeth grinding can cause fillings to wear prematurely. In addition, the filling material and adhesive will also simply wear down over time due to the natural conditions present in your mouth.


Some lifestyle factors can also contribute to premature filling wear. Poor oral hygiene, smoking, and a diet that’s very high in sugar and processed foods will cause your fillings (and your natural teeth) to wear down more quickly.


How Can I Make My Fillings Last?

Want your investment to last? Here are a few steps you can take to keep your fillings in good shape and maximize their lifespan. 

  • Brush and floss – Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, and make sure you floss once a day to remove food that can’t be removed with brushing alone.

  • Avoid certain foods and drinks – Cut back on sugary drinks, and limit sugary, sticky snacks like gummy candies and licorice. You also should avoid chewing and biting on extremely hard foods like ice, particularly with your front teeth.

  • Schedule routine checkups – Six-month appointments help your oral health stay on track, and allow Dr. Qian to check for signs of worn-out fillings.

  • Quit tobacco – Smoking and oral tobacco use are major contributing factors to oral health problems like tooth decay and premature filling failure. Talk to your doctor about how to quit smoking and tobacco use.

Need A New Filling? Contact Mary Qian Dental Group For An Appointment!  

At Mary Qian Dental Group, we’re always here to provide our patients with expert dental care in Palo Alto. Whether you think you may have a cavity or you need to replace an old filling, contact us online or give us a call at (650) 327-3172 to schedule a consultation right away. 


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