What Do I Do If My Old Filling Fails?

According to the CDC, up to 90% of all Americans have had a cavity in their lifetime. This means that you probably have at least one filling in your teeth. If your cavity occurred years ago, this might be a very old filling. 

While fillings are highly successful treatments for early-stage tooth decay, not everyone realizes that they’re only temporary and must be replaced. Read on in this blog from Flo Dentistry to learn the signs of a failed filling and how to know when to replace them.

Signs of a Failed Filling

Fillings have various lifespans depending on the material they are made from, your oral hygiene, and your lifestyle. While metal amalgam fillings can last for up to 15 years before needing to be replaced, composite fillings only last for about 5 to 7 years.

Keep these timelines in mind so you know when you should expect to replace old fillings. If a filling has failed, there are various signs that it may be failing, including discoloration near the filling, pain, tooth sensitivity, bad breath, signs of damage, and loose fillings. 

Discoloration indicates that the filling has either fallen out or become damaged and your tooth has become decayed. Tooth pain is never a good sign and should not occur in healthy teeth. Pain is another sign of tooth decay or infection. 

Experiencing tooth sensitivity means that your filling may have fallen out and the nerves may be exposed. If your filling feels loose, damaged, or missing, then your filling has most likely failed.

Next Steps

Once you notice the signs of a failed filling, you should stay calm and call your dentist right away. Take note of any other symptoms that you are experiencing and inform the dentist of these, especially if you have tooth pain, sensitivity, an abscess, swelling, or tooth discoloration. 

A failed filling is considered a dental emergency, so you will be treated with urgency to ensure that you don’t have a tooth infection that may require root canal treatment or even extraction. The filling needs to be replaced as soon as possible to prevent bacteria from entering the inside of the tooth and causing complications. 

Depending on the size of the filling, you may also be recommended to have a dental crown placed. Avoid touching the filling until you can reach the dentist. Rinse your mouth with a saltwater solution and chew on the other side of your mouth. Do not touch the tooth with a toothbrush, your tongue, or your fingers.

How to Prevent Fillings From Failing

To prevent a filling from failing, you’ll first want to make sure that you understand the lifespan of your filling. Know when to expect to replace them and how you should care for them. Composite fillings need extra care because they are less durable, especially when placed in the rear molars. 

While metal fillings are stronger and have a longer lifespan, they can still become damaged due to certain lifestyle habits. Practice good oral hygiene by brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once daily. 

Things that can damage your fillings include chewing hard, crunchy, or sticky foods, using your teeth as tools, teeth grinding, biting on fingernails or chewing on ice, and dental trauma. If you play contact sports or grind your teeth while you sleep, you should wear a mouthguard. You only need to wear it while wearing sports or overnight.

Contact Dr. Amin Today!

While a failed filling might not seem like a big deal, it’s not something you want to put off. A failed filling is considered a dental emergency because of the high risk for infection that may result in invasive treatment or even tooth loss. If you have a failed filling, contact us at Flo Dentistry today to schedule an emergency appointment with Dr. Omar Amin.

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