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Do tooth fillings need to be changed?

Do tooth fillings need to be changed?

  • August 24, 2021
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A filling installed on a tooth restores its integrity, makes it possible to prevent destruction during a carious process, and ensures that it performs its functions in full. Modern filling compounds have such qualities as: reliability, adhesiveness, abrasion resistance, and so on. However, over time, even they require replacement. Do tooth fillings need to be changed – more on that later.

Do you need a re-filling if nothing bothers you?

Many patients are surprised when a dentist recommends replacing an old filling with a new one, because they do not have pain or other unpleasant symptoms. However, the replacement is made not only with a pronounced inflammatory process, but also for preventive purposes, as well as to improve the aesthetics of the dentition.

Like any other material, the filling mass is subject to gradual wear, deformation, and destruction. Hygienic care, oral microorganisms, saliva pH, mechanical, chemical and temperature effects of food eventually provoke microscopic cracks in the filling. The resulting pores serve as a breeding ground for microbes and the development of dental diseases.

How long can a filling last?

The service life of a seal is determined by several factors, the main of which are the following:

  • correct installation and size,
  • features of the material from which it is made,
  • the condition of the abutment tooth, the thickness of its walls,
  • features of hygienic care: brush hardness, abrasiveness of pastes, etc.,
  • the presence or absence of certain habits: for example, a large consumption of nuts, seeds, teeth opening plugs,
  • the predominance of solid and / or hard foods in the diet, and so on.

As a rule, the minimum service life is 3-5 years, but some materials can last 10 or more years. In fact, it depends more on the state of the treated tooth after a while.

Why does caries develop under the filling mass?

The development of a carious process under the filling material is often observed with poor-quality processing of the tooth cavity during treatment. The remains of the affected tissues serve as a source of infection, which intensifies and captures more and more extensive areas of the unit of the dentition.

Caries can also form when the filling was carried out in violation of the protocol. An incorrectly applied composition quickly deteriorates, losing fixation with the walls of the tooth cavity or collapsing under the influence of the aggressive environment of the oral cavity. Microbes penetrate into the formed cracks and voids, which “start” the destructive process.

Another factor that provokes the development of caries is the natural aging of the filling. The appearance of microdamages (and micropores) on it and in it, which is inevitable over time, contributes to the accumulation of pathogenic bacteria, their reproduction, and the occurrence of a second disease. Therefore, it is advisable to replace old seals with new ones after the expiration date.

What are the fillings?

Various materials are used today for filling teeth. The most widespread are the following:

  • cement: it is cheap, therefore it is actively used in the budgetary dental field. Fillings made of this material are subject to destruction, short-lived (maximum – 1-2 years), when replacing them, doctors often diagnose a carious process,
  • amalgam: based on mercury, copper and silver. They are characterized by high strength, but the appearance leaves much to be desired. In addition, mercury is a toxic substance.
  • photopolymers: the most modern option. They harden in the light, are durable, highly aesthetically pleasing and natural looking. On average, they serve for about five years,
  • chemically cured composites: the material cures on its own without exposure to the blue light (but it can still be used to speed up the process). A very durable composition, most often placed on the chewing areas – on premolars and molars. Aesthetics are worse than photopolymers,
  • glass ionomer cements: they differ from classical cements in a large number of advantages, because stand for a long time, the price is not too high, they have low allergenicity and can be set for children.

When a re-filling is required?

You should see your dentist to determine when to change your filling. He will carry out diagnostics, including x-rays, and, if necessary, carry out a replacement.

The indications for refilling are the following conditions:

  • pain in the filled tooth,
  • destruction of the crown,
  • detection of caries under the filling material,
  • feeling of an unpleasant aftertaste,
  • reduced aesthetics of the restoration,
  • expiration of the seal’s service life.

The most common situations in which a re-filling is required are discussed below.

1. Changing the hue

Yellowness, darkening and other color changes in the filling (and enamel) most often indicate the presence of a destructive process in the tooth. If there is a reddish tint, it means that there is resorcinol in the previously installed material – in this case, not only a re-filling is required, but also additional cleaning of the canals, as well as an internal bleaching procedure.

2. Abrasion of the filling compound

Over time, the fillings wear off, which leads to a violation of the distribution of the chewing load. As a result, the bite changes, the load on the temporomandibular joint increases, TMJ pathologies develop, and digestion problems arise.

3. Hanging of the seal

If installed incorrectly, the filling material can “hang” over the adjacent tooth, the gum. The accumulation of food particles, broken contact between the units of the dentition provoke an inflammatory process in soft tissues, the multiplication of microorganisms and the development of caries, bleeding of the gums.

4. Subsidence of the filling mass

Shrinkage is typical for any materials used for filling. If it occurs along the axis of the tooth, the person’s bite may change, leading to problems with the TMJ and digestion. In addition, vertical subsidence provokes the appearance of cracks and even chips in the tooth, since, contracting, the filling “pulls” the hard tissue behind it. When subsiding in the horizontal plane, the degree of contact between adjacent units changes, food residues get stuck in the interdental spaces, the formation of caries and inflammation of the gums.

5. Flat surface of the seal

If, during filling, the dentist did not pay enough attention to the chewing surface, but made it flat, a violation of the chewing process will gradually lead to the development of problems with the gastrointestinal tract. Normally, there are bumps and fissures on it, which provides full contact with the opposite teeth of the other jaw.

6. Roughness has appeared

The rough surface of the filling indicates the presence of pores and microscopic cracks in it. This means that microbes have already entered it. Often, when removing the filling material in such cases, caries is revealed under it.

7. Service life expired

Even if the filling was installed more than 10-15 years ago and is still holding, it does not mean that it fulfills its function. In the overwhelming majority of cases, when refilling under such “rarities”, an extensive carious process is determined.

8. Unaesthetic appearance

Re-filling may be required if the previously installed filling stands out in shade from the rest of the teeth. Most often, the situation occurs after the whitening procedure. The old formulations have absorbed various dyes during the period of operation, therefore, to restore the aesthetic appearance (especially the front units), they must be replaced.

How to extend the life of the filling material?

How often you have to change the seal depends on how it is used correctly. To extend the life of the material, it is enough to heed the following tips:

  • do not save on material: very cheap means that it will not last long,
  • exclude increased stress on the seal: do not open bottles, avoid excessively solid food,
  • avoid a sharp change in temperature in the oral cavity: do not eat too hot or cold food,
  • select items and oral hygiene products in accordance with the characteristics of the teeth.

In addition, even in the absence of complaints, you need to regularly visit the dentist for the timely detection of pathologies and defects. It is better to spend a few minutes sanding than to re-fill after a while. Preventive visits will save time and money, as well as keep your nerves and teeth in perfect order.

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