A filling or dental obturation is meant to fill up a tooth that would have been destroyed by caries, wear or fracture. Two materials are most often used: amalgam (silver or black filling) and composite (white filling).
Similar in terms of sustainability, both types of fillings are distinguished primarily by the fact that the white filling is more aesthetic, requires a more conservative tooth preparation and does not contain mercury found in gray fillings.
Limitations of fillings
It is important to note that fillings (gray and white) have physical limits. When they become extensive, they are much more fragile and increase the risk of fracture of the remaining tooth. At this point, a crown is indicated to strengthen the tooth and reduce the risk of losing it by a non-restorable fracture.
Fillings are used to treat cavities, broken teeth, or for aesthetic purposes. But despite the excellent quality of materials used in dentistry, they are not eternal. Tooth fillings can crack, break or get worn after years of chewing or grinding the teeth. Usually a dentist identifies the weakness of dental restoration during a routine exam. It is very difficult to detect it on ourselves unless they start to hurt.
If the filling is broken superficially and does not affect the normal function of a tooth, we do not always need to change it unless it disturb aesthetically. If the seal between the fillings and the tooth is weakened, foods and bacteria of the mouth can get inside the tooth. This results in a cavity underneath the filling. If left untreated, the cavity can become symptomatic and affect the pulp of the tooth which will lead to a dental abscess and the need for a root canal treatment.
Repairing damaged fillings
There are multiple solutions that your dentist can suggest to repair a damaged filling, depending on your situation:
- Polish the old filling to remove fractured edges if the crack is superficial.
- Change the filling for a new one, if the rest of the tooth is intact.
- Do a crown, if a big cavity is formed or a piece of the tooth is fractured, leaving little healthy dental structure to support a replacement filling.
- Perform a root canal and a crown if the cavity or the fracture has reached the pulp, or the if the tooth hurts.
For more information or to take an appointment with our dental team, contact us.