Dental Filling

Dental Filling

A dental filling (dental restoration) may last many years before it needs to be replaced.

However there are a number of reasons that fillings may need to be replaced. Constant stress from chewing, grinding and clenching teeth may eventually cause a filling to chip, crack, wear down or fall out. A filling may also need to be replaced if the surrounding tooth structure becomes decayed.

Fillings that are worn or have pulled away from the teeth leave gaps at the filling edges, which provide an entry point for decay causing bacteria. Bacteria are present in a thin film called plaque that forms on teeth and gums. If the seal between the tooth and the filling breaks down, food particles and bacteria can work their way between the worn filling and the tooth and cannot be easily be removed with a toothbrush or other means.

Worn fillings

Worn fillings


Decay may develop along the edge of the filling and underneath it. Decay that is left untreated can infect the dental pulp, which often results in the need for root canal treatment. Untreated decay can even lead to loss of the tooth.

Regular dental examinations are important because problems with existing fillings generally can be detected in the early stage. Although you may not be able to tell that your filling is worn, your dentist can identify weaknesses in your dental restorations during a regular check-up.

During the exam, the dentist determines if the existing fillings are intact or if any have cracked or become worn. An instrument called an explorer can be used gently to detect any worn spots around the filling’s edge. Dental x-rays may be taken to find decay under a filling or between the teeth, neither of which can be seen simply by looking at the tooth.

Reference
Dental fillings, American Dental Association

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