One common misconception patients have when they get a cavity filled is that their filling will last a lifetime. While it would be nice if that were true, the resin composite material used in most fillings lasts about 20 years, give or take a few. But sometimes fillings break down much sooner than anticipated, with some lasting as few as five years. So, what’s going on with those fillings? Are they made of inferior materials? Were they placed incorrectly? Or maybe there’s something else going on that could be causing them to wear out early. Here are some common reasons fillings break down sooner than expected.
Fillings are made to withstand the force of your bite and chewing, but they’re not made to handle an excessive amount of crunching. If you regularly crunch ice, chew on pens or eat very crunchy foods like chips and pretzels, you could be causing your fillings to wear a little faster than intended.
Bruxism is the technical term for grinding your teeth. Your teeth are very strong, but they were meant to chew food, not grind against other teeth. As a result, teeth-grinders often have damaged teeth, including pitting, fractures and chips, and if the grinder also has fillings, that same damage could also appear on the fillings, too. Often, teeth-grinders need to replace fillings much sooner than non-teeth-grinders.
TMJ disorder is a condition of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) of the jaw that causes pain and stiffness in the TMJ and connecting muscles. The condition can be caused by stress, tension, arthritis, migraine headaches, a bad bite and even bruxism – or it can even cause all of those conditions on its own. It can also cause excessive wear on your fillings, especially if your TMJ disorder is caused by a bad bite or is caused by or causes you to grind your teeth. For patients with TMJ disorder, we recommend neuromuscular dentistry to realign the jaw and correct the bite. This will take some of the pressure off the teeth and help your fillings last longer.
Malocclusion, or “bad bite,” is a very common condition in which the teeth aren’t properly aligned in the jaw. In addition to a bad bite not looking attractive, it can often cause damage to the other teeth – and to any fillings – if you are accidentally biting down on your tooth instead of your food. If you have any type of malocclusion, speak with Dr. George about your orthodontic options. Getting your teeth in optimal alignment not only looks better, but your mouth will also feel better, and your fillings will last longer, too.
It goes without saying that you should never use your teeth for things like biting your nails, opening bottles or cans, or chewing on anything that isn’t food (like those pen caps!), but many people still do it. If you are one of them, the first thing you should do is stop. Your teeth are precious, and when you put them in harm’s way, you run the risk of losing them – permanently. If your teeth have fillings, they are already weaker than a healthy tooth with no cavities. To then use that tooth for a purpose other than intended puts it at an even higher risk of breaking and could cause unnecessary wear.
Remember, fillings weren’t meant to last forever – and even the most well-maintained fillings will need to be replaced eventually. If you have any of the conditions discussed above, speak to Dr. George about your options to help you take proper care of your teeth, and to break some of the bad habits that could be putting your fillings and teeth in jeopardy.
Contact Dr. George’s office to make an appointment today at 724-220-2347.