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Summer Issue

CareCheckup

Dentistry

Is it time to replace your old dental tooth fillings?

Dental tooth fillings can help repair teeth that have been damaged by decay, as well as prevent further decay. But have you ever wondered if, or when, you should consider having an old filling replaced with a new one?

While the materials used to make dental tooth fillings are strong and durable, they aren't meant to last forever. In fact, most dental fillings last anywhere from seven to 15 years. If you have fillings, below are two primary reasons to consider having them replaced.

  1. Fillings are no longer working properly to protect your teeth.
    Over time, the pressure from chewing and biting can cause fillings to chip or crack, letting decay-causing bacteria and food particles work their way under the filling. In some cases, even newer fillings can become loose or discolored. Let your dentist know if you notice fillings that appear worn or cracked, or if you're experiencing tooth sensitivity or pain around an existing filling.
  2. You want a more natural look.
    Newer options in dental filling material, such as composite and porcelain, are strong and durable, and can even match your existing tooth color, giving you a more natural look. This is especially true if you have older amalgam, or metal-colored fillings. Composite fillings can also be an ideal choice to repair a chipped or broken tooth.

Other Factors to Consider

  • Location of filling. Some dental filling materials may be better suited for different areas of your mouth. For example, tooth-colored composite fillings are ideal for front teeth or visible portions. Stronger and more durable amalgam fillings may offer better protection for a larger area that needs to withstand biting and chewing.
  • Extent of tooth decay. If a filling is large, there might not be enough tooth structure to support a replacement filling, and a crown might be necessary to replace the old filling. Your dentist can recommend the best filling option based on an examination of your teeth.
  • Types of dental tooth filling material. Teeth can be filled with gold, porcelain, amalgam or composite resin materials. Your dentist can recommend the best filling option based on your needs and personal preferences. It's important to note that although amalgam fillings contain traces of mercury, both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and American Dental Association (ADA) report that research shows the amount of mercury in metal fillings does not pose a health risk.

Practicing good oral hygiene is an important step to prevent cavities — and the need for fillings. Talk to your dentist about cavity treatment options and the need (or desire) to replace any existing fillings to determine the best course of action for you. Remember that your CareCredit credit card provides a convenient way to pay for care not covered by insurance. Use the Provider Locator to find a nearby dentist who accepts your CareCredit card.

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