Why Large Dental Fillings Pose Risk to Your Dental Health Dr. Peter Rumack, DDS on 17 Feb 2015
Tooth restorations using fillings is quite common. It’s an effective way of restoring functionality and reducing further bacterial infection of the tooth structure. Fillings have been used by millions across the globe with great success. They are also affordable. Thus they are used by most patients as a way to stop further tooth damage.
However, several medical reports indicate that fillings are most effective and long lasting when they are small.
Problems associated with overly filled teeth
- Filling may separate from the natural tooth – When a small amount of filling material is used, it’s likely to stay put for a longer period. This will provide the patient with reliable function while at the same time reducing the possibility of further infections. However, when the filling covers a large surface area, there is a higher chance of an opening to forming between the tooth and the filling. This could result in additional bacterial penetration and is something that may cause more havoc to your tooth.
- Cracking of teeth – If the filling is very large, it means that wall of the tooth holding the filling is thin. The risk of using such a filling in is that the side of the tooth may crack due to pressure when chewing.
- Possibility of the tooth splitting – Large and deep fillings running through the middle of teeth might create an even more serious problem. Even though it will provide the protection to the tooth, the potential risk should make the patient think twice. If a lot of pressure is exerted on a tooth with a large filling, the filling may act as a wedge between tooth walls. In the worst case, a split can extend towards the root of the tooth causing irreversible damage to the tooth. This might mean that the tooth must be extracted.
Silver amalgam fillings have been used for over 100 years. Researchers have been able to follow up on patients who get fillings to ascertain durability and effectiveness. Such research has made it clear that silver amalgam is effective when used as small fillings. However the main causes of such problems are corrosion and distortion resulting from temperature changes and the pressure that is applied while chewing. Such are the factors which may cause cracks and fractures.
Although large composites (white filling) are more dimensionally stable and less likely to act as a wedge, they can lose their bonded adhesion to the wall of the tooth.The lack of bond is likely to open spaces for bacteria breeding. This can lead to openings between the material and tooth creating new sites for decay to form.
The best solution for large restorations
Getting fillings, especially small ones, is a reliable solution for restorations. However, where the condition has advanced and the cavity is bigger, restoring teeth with extensive fillings may not be the best idea.
In situations where teeth have large areas of decay, it is actually more conservative to use an onlay or crown for a restoration rather that to place a large amalgam or composit filling. While your dentist may be removing more tooth structure than for fillings, the tooth should actually be stronger and last longer when a crown or onlay in place. A crown will cost you a more, but it’s the most effective approach. In the long term you will save your teeth, and actually spend less for your dental care.
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