By Last Updated: March 1, 2024

Dental fillings are the treatment of choice for tooth decay. However, keep in mind that dental fillings are not as strong as your natural tooth. They must be maintained well so they last you many years.

But ultimately, daily functions from chewing and biting can cause the natural wear and tear of your fillings. If this happens, go to your dentist to have them replaced so they can look good as new.

Tooth Decay and Dental Fillings

Tooth decay is the most common dental disease. It is caused by acids from bacteria that attack and demineralize the tooth enamel. With the loss of minerals, the enamel becomes weak, making it prone to tooth damage.

In its early stages, tooth decay can still be reversed with good oral hygiene and frequent dental visits. However, if decay is left untreated, it will progress and continue to damage the tooth.

To treat tooth decay, your dentist will recommend dental fillings. This procedure involves removing all decayed tooth parts, and then restoring the tooth with a filling material such as composite or ceramic.

6 Warning Signs Your Filling Needs Replacing

There are many reasons why your filling may need to be replaced. It may be because it broke, chipped off, or it naturally wore out. If needed, a replacement filling should be done to prevent problems such as severe pain, dental infections, gum disease, and tooth loss.

If you have a filling, here are some signs that you may need to get checked with your dentist to have it replaced:

Warning Sign 1: Tooth Sensitivity

If you feel some sensitivity to hot or cold food or drinks, it may be a sign that your tooth filling needs replacing. Tooth sensitivity may indicate that there is a small crack or break in the filling. It should be repaired as soon as possible to prevent further damage.

However, tooth sensitivity may not always mean that it needs immediate replacement. If you’re experiencing sensitivity around a tooth filling, it’s essential to consult with your dentist. They can examine the tooth, identify the cause of the sensitivity, and recommend the best course of action, whether that involves replacing the filling or addressing another issue.

Warning Sign 2: Pain or Discomfort

If there is pain in the tooth with filling, it can mean that there is a deeper decay under the tooth or that there is an existing dental infection. To assess the cause of the pain, your dentist will take an X-ray of your tooth and determine where the problem is.

If there is deep tooth decay, a base will be placed on the cavity before it is repaired with a composite or filling material. The base helps insulate the tooth to prevent persistent pain. But, if there is a dental infection, your dentist will first treat the infection through root canal therapy, then restore the tooth with either a filling or dental crown.

Warning Sign 3: Visible Damage or Wear

Damage or wear of a dental filling is normal, especially if it has been a while since you had it done. Because you use your teeth for daily functions such as chewing, biting, and eating, your dental filling can show signs of wear. Over time, it may look sunken or flat.

But visible damage may also be due to tooth trauma causing a broken or chipped filling. Dental fillings are not as strong as natural tooth enamel, so they may crack if you bite on something too hard. A replacement for a damaged filling can help restore its proper anatomy to help you eat comfortably.

Warning Sign 4: Changes in the Bite

Bite issues are also a telltale sign that your filling needs replacing. Your filling should be shaped properly so that it mimics the cusps of the tooth. If you feel that your bite is too low or too high that it makes biting difficult, it may be a sign that you need to get it replaced.

If the bite is too low, eating and chewing becomes unsupported. But if the bite is too high, it can put unnecessary pressure on the tooth and will eventually cause pain. It can also cause a lot of strain on your jaw muscles.

Warning Sign 5: Discolourations

Composite dental fillings are not stain-resistant. So, if you like to drink coffee, wine, tea, or other coloured food and drinks, discolouration is something that can be a problem for you down the road.

Discolouration is mainly an esthetic concern. If the discolouration is on the filling of the back tooth, you can get away with not replacing it until absolutely necessary. But for the front tooth, a discoloured filling can look unsightly when you smile. A replacement filling that matches the colour of the rest of your teeth can make all the difference in your smile and confidence.

Warning Sign 6: Recurring Decay

A tooth with recurring decay may mean that not all decay was removed from the previous treatment. So, bacteria has spread to cause further tooth damage.

It may also occur if good oral hygiene is neglected. If this happens, the mouth is more prone to several dental diseases, including decay.

Importance of Regular Dental Check-ups

Despite being highly preventable, tooth decay remains to be the most common dental disease. The Canadian Health Measures Survey reports that 96% of Canadians have a history of cavities. This is where routine dental check-ups come to save the day.

With regular check-ups, your dentist can spot and prevent problems before they progress. For example, if you have tooth decay, your dentist can save it with simple dental fillings. But, if you come in too late and the filling has spread, a filling may no longer suffice to save your tooth. Instead, root canal therapy or tooth extraction may be recommended.

Regular dental check-ups save you from unnecessary treatments and dental expenses. Call your dentist today to have your check-up done and see if any of your tooth fillings need replacing!