What does this mean?
If a tooth has a filling, it is very important that at the junction where the filling and the tooth meet, there be a good seal.
If there is an opening where the tooth structure meets the filling, then you end up with leakage of saliva, food debris and bacteria into the opening. This is usually into the dentin of the tooth. The dentin is the layer of the tooth underneath the enamel. The dentin is softer than the enamel and if it is exposed to the saliva etc., it will decay pretty quickly and the tooth may become sensitive.
When you compare silver and white filling material, there tends to be more leakage with white fillings. This is because there is some shrinkage or contraction of the white filling material (also known as composite) over time.
If there is shrinkage of the filling material, then a gap will form, allowing for bacteria, food debris and saliva to enter and begin decaying the tooth structure.
How do we determine whether a filling needs to be replaced?
The decision of whether to replace a filling is based on certain criteria. These are:
1. Whether or not the patient has any sensitivity.
2. An x ray shows any re-decay or visible gaps that are present between the filling and tooth structure.
3. Upon clinically examining the teeth, I can see a gap present at the junction where the filling meets the tooth.
The Life Span of a Filling
We’d like to think that our fillings could last for many years. However, the length of time depends on variables such as:
1. Quality of the filling material used.
2. Skill of the practitioner placing the filling.
3. Oral hygiene of the patient, meaning in a clean mouth, the fillings last longer. A car covered with salt will rust easily; if a filling is covered with plaque, it won’t hold up either.
I can tell you all of this from practicing dentistry for more than 24 years.
Got questions? We have answers. Check our dental blog regularly for updates on the latest in dental advancements, enhancements and tips on keeping your teeth white and strong.
Yours in good health,
Dr. Robert Axelrad