How many times a day do you look at your teeth?
Sure, you check them out after dinner to make sure that you don’t have leftovers stuck, or when you walk past a mirror and you smile at yourself because you look that good. You probably think that because your smile looks great, it’s perfectly healthy.
But have you actually looked at your teeth (including the ones with fillings) to make sure that they’re healthy? If not, a visit to the dentist may be in your not so distant future.
How Can a Dentist Tell If Your Teeth Are Unhealthy?
Just because you can’t see any imperfections (no matter how big or small), doesn’t mean that they aren’t there. Your dentist is able to see everything with the help of a magnifying glass attached to their glasses and a bright headlight.
They can also use digital photography to really see any imperfections. This allows them to take a picture of the inside of your mouth and blow it up as large as needed to point out any problem areas.
Do I Need to Replace My Fillings?
If you’ve spent time in the dentist’s chair and money to make sure that your teeth are as healthy as possible, you don’t want to do anything to jeopardize the progress you’ve made.
If you have metal amalgams (the silver coloured fillings), the tooth surrounding the filling should be tooth coloured, not grey, green, or black. The edges of the filling should be snug against the tooth with no visible gaps. The filling surfaces should be shiny and smooth with no signs of corrosion.
If you have tooth coloured fillings, the edges should smooth. You shouldn’t have any gaps between where the filling meets the tooth. One of the main things that dentists look for is staining where the filling and tooth connect. Stains mean bacteria and mold have seeped their way between the filling edge and the tooth.
How Long Should Fillings Last?
Many factors determine the lifespan of your filling: the size, depth, material used, your eating and hygiene habits, and the levels of bacteria in your mouth. Simply put, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to determining how long your filling will last. Your fillings that are small, shallow, and not under the heavy stress your back teeth face will last longer than ones that are deeper and used more heavily.
How to Make Your Fillings Last Longer
White or tooth coloured fillings shouldn’t take up more than half of your tooth. If that much tooth needs to be replaced, your dentist should use a stronger material like porcelain, ceramic, or zirconia, which is extremely durable. These materials tend to cost more because they are created in a dental laboratory. The upside to these pricey alternatives is that there is less chance of a breakdown where the filling material and tooth meet because the material used is harder.
Another thing to consider when extending the life expectancy of your filling is your bite. If your teeth are straight and your bite is even on both sides, any filling material used will last longer than if you have crooked teeth and bite malfunction (clicking, popping jaw, or worn-down teeth). Almost any material used to craft a filling will fail faster if you don’t correct your bite first.
Don’t let the time and money spent on getting a healthy mouth go to waste. Contact Dr. Andrea Stevens today to make sure that your fillings are as healthy as possible.