Dental fillings (restorations) can last many years before they need replacing. However, constant pressure from chewing,
grinding, and clenching may cause a filling to wear away, chip, crack or even fall out.
Fillings that are worn around the edges or have pulled away from tooth enamel are invitations to decay-causing bacteria.
The bacteria, which are present in salive, combine with sugar or startch from food products to produce acids. The bacteria
enter the tiney spaces between the filling and the tooth. Once there, they cannot usually be removed with a toothbrush. Decay
may start to develop along the margins of the filling.
Improper hygiene, improper diet, gum recession or decreased saliva flow might cause recurring decay. If the recurrent
decay is not removed early, it eventually progresses into the soft dentin and then the dental pulp, the tooth's living core.
If the damaged or diseased pulp is not removed, the tooth and the surrounding tissues can become infected.
Regular dental examinations are important because fillings that are broken or not longer intact generally can be detected
in the early stages. During your checkup, your dentist can determine whether existing fillings are intact, or if any have
cracked or worn away. Worn fillings would be replaced promptly before decay begins.
In some cases, extensive tooth decay around an existing filling may leave little tooth structure once the decay is removed.
Your dentist may need to restore the tooth with a crown instead of a filling.