Can You Replace Old Fillings?
Dental fillings are an effective treatment for damaged or decayed teeth. Fillings mold to a tooth’s biting surface to replace enamel lost to damage, erosion, or decay. Fillings restore a tooth and protect it from further damage or infection.
Dental fillings are made of durable materials but they do not last forever. As dental fillings wear out, patients are likely to wonder, “can you replace old fillings?” At his dental practice in Fountain Valley, CA, Dr. Andrew G. Mortensen offers dental filling replacements. He helps patients consider the best time to replace old fillings and discusses replacement options.
When Should Fillings Be Replaced?
The goals of a dental filling are to replace tooth structure lost by decay, add a protective layer to the tooth, and seal off the sensitive nerves and tissues that reside at the center of the tooth. If dental fillings are no longer serving their purpose, it is time to get them replaced. The most common reasons for dental filling replacement include:
- A chipped, cracked, or damaged filling
- A filling that is loose or falls out
- Decay in the tooth beneath the filling
- A metal filling that compromises the aesthetics of the smile
Signs That a Filling Needs Replacement
When our Fountain Valley patients schedule routine dental exams and cleanings, Dr. Mortensen can often detect the need for a filling replacement before complications develop. However, sometimes issues arise between dental checkups. Patients should recognize symptoms that may indicate the need for a filling replacement, such as:
- Heightened tooth sensitivity
- Pressure when biting
- Sharp pain or throbbing in the tooth
- Visible damage to the dental filling
- Loose filling material
Filling Replacement Options
Old dental fillings can usually be replaced with new amalgam fillings or tooth-colored fillings, but sometimes we recommend that our Fountain Valley patients replace a filling with a dental crown. The right replacement option for each patient depends on the health and structure of the tooth being treated, as well as the patient’s personal preference. Dr. Mortensen helps patients consider whether they are best suited for an amalgam filling, a tooth-colored filling, or a dental crown.
Amalgam fillings are made of silver metal materials. Amalgam fillings are one of the strongest and most durable dental restorations. They can last up to 15 years. The downside of amalgam fillings is their color. Metal fillings stand out against the teeth and can detract from the beauty of the smile.
Tooth-colored fillings are made of composite materials that are customized to blend in with your natural tooth color. Tooth-colored fillings are ideal for small to moderate areas of decay. Composite fillings are resistant to fractures, but they generally do not last as long as amalgam fillings. On average, tooth-colored fillings require replacement within seven years.
If a tooth has substantial decay or damage, or if an infection develops, replacing an old dental filling with a new one may not be sufficient. In these cases, a dental crown is the better option. A dental crown completely surrounds the crown of the tooth to provide strength and protection.
If you have an old dental filling that is damaged or worn down, it needs to be replaced before your dental health is compromised. To discuss dental filling replacement with Dr. Andrew G. Mortensen, call (714) 964-4183 at your earliest convenience or schedule an appointment online.