It's Time To Get Your Filling Replaced If This Happens

Fillings are rarely anyone's idea of a good time. Even with the use of Novocain and other numbing agents, there is something about the sound of the drill and the feel of the dentist working in your mouth that is unsettling. Things only get progressively more uncomfortable when a filling needs replacement. But before things can even get that far, patients have to notice that their old filling has failed. Or, ideally, a dentist notices a worn filling during a routine exam.

That's the situation the American Dental Association prefers. They explain that fillings wear down over time thanks to everyday use. Chewing, clenching our jaws, and grinding our teeth can all contribute to the wear and tear on our fillings. If we are fortunate enough to regularly see a dentist, they should be able to spot the worn spots well before they become an issue. For those who cannot get to the dentist, their clue may come when a filled tooth begins causing them pain or if they notice a visible crack in the filling.

A crack in the filling is the least of the issues, however. The ADA also says that fillings can wear away in the spots where they connect to our teeth. These worn out spots are the perfect breeding grounds for bacteria. Worse still, it's almost impossible to clean out the gaps using everyday dental hygiene. And that can lead to big trouble.

It's important to get fillings checked

If you notice that your filling is wearing away from your tooth, try to get to a dentist as soon as possible. As the ADA says, those gaps can house some pretty nasty bacteria that can cause anything from plaque to a cavity to an abscess that can only be treated by removing the tooth or, in most cases, through a root canal.

Although most people are familiar with the term, many may not know what the procedure actually requires. As explained by the American Association of Endodontists, root canals require a specialized dentist known as an endodontist to drill through the decayed section of the tooth until they reach the dental pulp at the center. This pulp houses the tooth's nerve and its blood supply. Both the pulp and its contents are vital when we're growing up, as they feed our teeth what they need to grow with us. As adults, however, the pulp isn't needed. So when it becomes infected or inflamed due to tooth decay, the endodontist removes the pulp, cleans the inside of the tooth, and then seals it to prevent further decay.

It's a procedure with even less appeal than a filling. So if a tooth starts to hurt — or if you've been putting off seeing your dentist — make the call. Replacing a filling is a far cry better than needing a root canal or losing the tooth entirely.