Restoration Reality Check: Avoiding Replacement Could Cost You

Save money by maintianingOne of the questions we get asked frequently is:

Why do I need to replace my filling (or crown)?  I thought it would last forever?

As much as we would love to be able to promise that to you, we can’t.  Even with the highest quality of materials and techniques, which of course Dr. Lee uses, fillings and/or crowns (also called restorations) aren’t permanent.  Why?  Well, for the same reason your natural tooth structure does not last forever.  Thousands, even, millions of bacteria are introduced in your mouth daily.  Yuck!  Bacteria are present in a thin film called plaque, and when not cleaned off properly, plaque will cause decay in the tooth.

A few years after placing restorations, we start to see general wear and tear, causing the seal of the restoration to break down.  There is no way to know exactly when this will happen since every mouth is different.  Bacteria can then work their way between the worn filling and the tooth and can’t be easily removed with a toothbrush and floss.  Decay will then start to develop along the edge of the filling and even underneath it.  This is when your Federal Way dentist, Dr. Lee, will recommend you have the restoration replaced.

What can happen if I don’t get it treated?

  • You can lose more tooth structure.  When a tooth has decay left untreated, that area will get weak and then it will break.
  • You may need an even larger restoration.  For example, you may need to go from a filling to a crown.  Usually when you lose more than 50% of tooth structure, a crown is recommended to help strengthen the tooth.
  • The nerve of the tooth can get infected.  If the decay reaches the nerve, or dental pulp, most likely the tooth will need a root canal treatment.
  • Worst case scenario, which happens more than you think:  You could lose the whole tooth.  Depending on where it is located and how large the decay gets, there’s a chance you will need to have the tooth extracted

How do I ensure a longer life for my restorations?

  • Brush twice daily and floss once a day.
  • Drink water and/or chew sugarless gum after meals.
  • Keep your teeth and gums in good health by visiting your hygienist at Avalon Family Dentistry regularly.
  • Get your teeth checked 1-2 times a year by your dentist in Federal Way, Dr. Lee.  Some patients with higher decay rate may require more frequent visits to the dentist.
  • Ask Dr. Lee about a preventive treatment called sealants.
  • Have x-rays taken every 1 1/2 to 2 years.
  • It is recommended by Dr. Lee to use fluoride toothpaste to help strengthen your tooth enamel.

We may not wear superhero capes, BUT we are here to help save your smile!  It is very important you have your teeth checked regularly by your dentist to ensure the integrity of your restorations is still intact.  Bonus:  When a problem is found in its early stages, the treatment will be easier (and less costly) for you.  Who doesn’t want that?

Maintain your fillings and crowns by scheduling your next visit with our hygiene team and Dr. Lee at 253-941-6365 today!

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