When should a filling be replaced?

There is no substitution for a natural healthy tooth. Dental fillings are intended to replace tooth structure and restore a tooth damaged by decay (a cavity) back to its normal function and shape. Silver (amalgam) and tooth-colored (composite) fillings last a long time, though they can develop decay when the integrity is compromised by open margins, fracture, or recurrent decay. In this blog, we discuss the signs and symptoms that indicate your filling may need to be replaced in order to prevent further complications.

Amalgam fillings are made of an alloy (mixed metals) that expands and contracts. They have no bonding properties, and so to place an amalgam filling, the hole in the tooth may need to be larger. Because of these two factors, fractures frequently occur. There are three types of cracks that are commonly associated. Craze lines are superficial with no treatment needed. Fractures extend along other parts of the tooth and may require a filling replacement or crown. Cracks extend toward the root and can require a root canal and crown or, if too severe, extraction.

A filing needs to be sealed to the tooth. If the seal between the tooth and the filling breaks down, food debris and bacteria can seep down under the filling and cause recurrent decay. If the decay is treated early, replacing the filling is adequate. If not, a crown and even a root canal may be needed. The biggest mistake you can make is waiting to do something about a broken or unsealed filling until it is painful. Doing this will only make the treatment more involved and often times more expensive.

Regular dental exams and X-rays are used to evaluate dental fillings. You will not be able to tell on your own when your fillings start to fail. Just as a car mechanic will change the oil, correct your alignment, or change your tires, a dental checkup will help you identify small concerns to fix as you go in order to avoid a critical emergency.

Pay attention to any bite or temperature sensitivity in teeth that have fillings. This can be an indicator for some of the problems listed above. You know your teeth better than anyone. Your observations are most valuable when evaluating a filling for replacement. If replacement is needed, know you are doing what is best to prevent future dental calamities and make an appointment to see the doctor.

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Testimonials

  • "a month ago
    Travis Watson was truly the most kind, compassionate, honest, and detail-oriented dentist that I have ever been to. I have had work done by at least a half dozen or more dentists over the years, and Dr. Watson was BY FAR the most compassionate, kind, and caring when it came to my procedure and dental work needs. I couldn't possibly recommend. Dr. Watson and Pinon Hills Dental any higher. Five stars isn't enough. Dr. Watson should get 10 stars. If there was a Nobel Prize for dentistry, Dr. Watson should win it--and many times over. If you're considering a dentist in the Farmington area--or beyond (I came from Durango)--Dr. Watson should be your choice. Beyond belief, you'll actually look forward going to the dentist. I'm forever grateful for Dr. Watson's skill, compassion, and kindness--and you will be too."
    Peter Barr- Google Dec 2020
  • "I visited Pinion Hills Dental for the first time yesterday to get a cleaning and check up. I have nothing but great things to say about the experience that I had and quality of service. I had a great interaction with everyone involved from the front desk, to the hygienist Yvette and Dr. Watson himself. Highly recommend!"
    Colby Gibson-Google Oct 2020
  • "The staff here are very friendly and accommodating. I was in a decent amount of pain so they moved my appointment up and kept me from hurting for an extra 5 days. Dr. Watson personally called me to check on me and make sure things we're ok. It means a lot that he didn't have an assistant or secretary make that call."
    Kev Sharp-GoogleNov2020
  • "Dr. Watson is absolutely incredible in every way! We have always been treated with the utmost respect, compassion and expertise. He has gone out of his way to treat our family in emergency situations. In each instant, he provided amazing and excellent care when other dentists could not. He is always positive and reassuring in all situations! His office staff, dental assistants and hygienists are incredible in every way! The atmosphere in the office is peaceful, positive and upbeat! We highly recommend Pinon Hills!!!"
    Angela McDaniels- GoogleDec2020
  • "The politeness and care of the dentist, dental hygienist and the staff wowed me today. Dr. Watson and Dr. Weber really have a vested interest in your teeth. They are very concerned to the point that I brush and floss so I won't let them down.
    You never feel belittled by anyone in the office and they only encourage you when you need to do a little better. I used to worry about going to the dentist but now I know I have people who want the best for me in the doctors office."
    Kevin Jaramillo