At Cornerstone Dental, a number of methods are used to determine tooth decay, which include:

Observation – If your teeth are showing discolored spots, it may indicate tooth decay; however, not all discolored spots are a sign of tooth decay. In most cases an explorer is used, which is a metal instrument with a point, for probing for any possible decay. If enamel of the tooth is healthy, it is hard and thus resists the pressure exerted by the explorer. On the other hand, if the enamel is decayed, it will be softer and the explorer will stick in it.
Cavity-detecting dye – This is a dye which is rinsed over your teeth. The dye will rinse cleanly from those teeth which are healthy, and will stick to decayed ones.
X-rays – X-rays help to detect decay which are not visible on the surface.

A filling might also be required if you have:

Broken or cracked teeth
Teeth which are worn out due to unusual use, such as:
Using your teeth for opening things
Grinding your teeth

The Filling Process

fillings2When it is determined that you require a filling, you will be administered a local anesthesia in order to numb the area. As the next step, the dentist removes the decay from your tooth, using a drill or other hand instruments.

Throughout this decay removal process, the affected area is tested with the explorer to check for any decay that may be remaining. Once all the decay is removed, the space is shaped to prepare it for receiving the filling. The shaping procedure will depend on the type of filling being used; this is to make sure that the filling will stay in place.

To finish, your tooth is polished after the filling has been placed onto the tooth.

After The Filling:

Many people feel some sort of sensitivity after receiving a filling. The filled tooth or teeth may be sensitive to air, pressure, sweet foods, cold or hot. It is essential that you inform us of any sort of sensitivity that you might be feeling after the filling.

In rare cases, the filling may have some remaining sharp edges. If this is the case, get in touch with us immediately, so that we can smooth it out ASAP, to avoid any kind of injury to your mouth or tongue.

Why does a filling need replacement?

fillings3Nothing in this world last forever and fillings are no exception. Over time, fillings become discolored. For instance, silver or amalgam fillings tarnish and corrode. Composite, tooth-colored fillings can pick up stains, and darken or get yellow over time. When you chew anything, the teeth and fillings have to deal with immense pressures. It is normal for some fillings to wear down over time, even if other problems don’t develop. Eventually, virtually all fillings need to replaced.

Why do Fillings Fall Out?

There can be several reasons for a filling to fall out. Some of them are:

  • You end up breaking the tooth or filling, by chewing too hard on the filled tooth.
  • The filling material that was used failed to restore the filled tooth to its appropriate function and form.
  • There was contamination from saliva in the cavity, when the dentist placed the filling into it. In the case of composite resins, the material’s bonding would be disrupted and consequently, the bond would fail to stick properly to the tooth and it might fall out.

Fillings that Crack.

Both composite and amalgam fillings have a tendency to crack; this can happen within a short time of their being placed or after some time of being in place.

One reason for a crack to occur soon after the filling is placed is that the filling is higher than the rest of the tooth surface and must bear most of the biting force. Cracks also appear over time because of the forces from biting and chewing which will affect the filling.

Sometimes small cracks are seen at the fillings’ edges. These cracks usually appear because of wear over time. Many times these cracks do not necessitate a replacement and can be repaired.

Fillings that Leak.

When the filling’s side is not fitting tightly against the tooth wall, it is said to be leaking. Saliva and debris can leak down in this space between the tooth and filling, and result in sensitivity, decay and discoloration.

Fillings may also leak due to wear over time. These fillings would need to be replaced.

Worn-Out Fillings

Some fillings may last up to fifteen years or longer. Others may need replacement in as little time as five years. A thorough dental examination can determine if your fillings are worn out and need to be replaced.

Grinding and Clenching

If you have a habit of grinding or clenching your teeth, you may have more problems with your fillings. Grinding and clenching place force on your teeth, and consequently lead to extra wear on fillings and also causes tooth sensitivity. This habit can also result in cracking or development of small lines in you fillings and teeth. This refers to fine cracks which are visible if a light is shone on your tooth.

Keeping Your Fillings

Even though some amalgam fillings may last as long as 15 years, an amalgam filling, on average. Composite fillings usually don’t last as long.

Please call today to schedule an appointment with Cornerstone Dental, if you are experiencing:

  • A sensitive tooth
  • A visible crack
  • A portion of the filling seems to be missing
    To help ensure that your fillings last for a long time, you should visit us on a regular basis for cleanings and you should floss a minimum of once a day. Furthermore, we recommend brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride helps to prevent cavities and strengthen the teeth.

Fillings Replacement.

Before moving forward to remove your old fillings, we will discuss various treatment options with you, as sometimes repairing a filling is enough and it is not necessary to replace it totally.


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