My family's dental health is important to me. Unfortunately for me, it is not as important to my little ones. Getting my kids to brush and floss on a daily basis is almost like taking on an obstacle course. I talked to my family's dentist about different methods I could try to encourage them to brush and floss on a regular basis. Some of the tricks worked, some did not. After some experimentation and talking to other parents, I was able to come up with a lot of great tips for helping kids care for their teeth. I started this blog to help other parents get creative when it comes to their kids and dental care.
Dental fillings are an excellent solution for tooth decay. They fill in the damaged section of the tooth and prevent the decay from spreading. But while fillings are long-lasting, they are not always a permanent solution. After 10 or 15 years, it's common for fillings to begin cracking, breaking, or loosening. If you have older fillings in your mouth, it's important to be on the lookout for signs that one has cracked or broken -- and also to know how your dentist will handle this situation.
Signs Your Filling Has Broken
Some patients notice all of the signs below, while others only notice one or two of them.
Pain and Sensitivity
Sometimes the first indication that a filling has broken will be a sharp pain in the affected tooth. This often happens because when part of the filling falls out, the nerves located deeper within the tooth tissue are exposed. You may also notice that when you sip hot or cold liquids or eat hot or cold foods, your tooth reacts. Note that this can also be a sign of a new cavity, so if you're not sure whether the affected tooth has a filling or not, it's still a good idea to have it checked out by the dentist.
Does your tooth suddenly feel rough or ragged? It's possible that a part of the filling broke off, leaving a sharp or jagged edge. If the problem is so pronounced that you fear you may scrape your tongue or cheek, visit the local pharmacy and purchase some dental wax. (This is made for patients who wear braces.) Press a glob of the wax onto the sharp area until you're able to get in to see the dentist. Don't worry if the wax falls off and you swallow some of it. It is made to be safe for consumption.
Black or Brown Spot
If you look at one of your teeth and suddenly notice a black or brown spot, it could be that one of your fillings has fallen out completely. It's also possible that part of your filling cracked or broke off, allowing oral bacteria to invade and cause decay around the old filling.
How Dentists Handle Cracked or Broken Fillings
How your dentist handles the situation will depend on how badly the filling is damaged, the condition of the remaining tooth material, and what the original filling was made from. Here are the most likely possibilities.
Adding To The Filling
If you had a composite filling, only a small section broke off, and the tooth around it is still in good shape, your dentist may simply add some more composite resin to the area. The old composite will bond tightly with the new composite, forming a full filling again. This process should be painless; you probably won't even need a local anesthetic.
Remove and Replace the Filling
Metal amalgam fillings generally need to be removed and replaced when they suffer damage. Your dentist will also remove the entire filling if it has a large crack or if the tooth around it is beginning to decay. You'll be given local anesthesia for this process, and your dentist will use a drill to remove the old filling material. Then, the damaged tooth material will be removed, and a new filling will be put in place.
Cap The Tooth
If the filling has been damaged for a while but was left untreated, the tooth around it may show some extensive decay. In this case, your dentist's best move might be to remove the filling and instead put a crown over the tooth to protect it. This process takes place over several appointments. A mold is made from your tooth, and then a custom crown is put into place.
To learn more about broken fillings and how to fix them, contact a dentist at offices like Treasured Smiles Dentistry.