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What do Dentists Mean when they Recommend Replacing Old Crowns/Fillings/Bridges/Dentures/Etc?

We get it - you've already had that filling done or crown or bridge or other restoration finished and you don't want to get it replaced.

But, things happen.

While we choose the best material suited for you and your unique bite, synthetic material can never be as good as your natural teeth. If you're here, you might be very well aware that bad things can happen to your natural teeth. And they can happen to restorations over time as well.

So, before we dive deeper, here is your public service announcement of the day: please take care of your teeth as well as you can to make them last as long as possible!) And don't neglect your replacements either (we'll get into more detail about this below)! This means learning how to properly brush and floss your teeth, gums, tongue and inner cheeks to effectively remove anything that can damage or irritate your oral tissues and/or teeth. This means that after learning the techniques, that you're also putting it into practice, every day and at the very least, twice a day (that includes a brushing routine of at least two minutes, by the way!)

But this might raise a question: when should your get a restoration replaced? Be it a filling ,crown, denture, bridge, or implant, when does a dentist recommend that you get a new one in its place?

The good news is, there is no set time. Dental restorations don't really have a set 'expiration date' but we do sometimes recommend that you get 'an old filling replaced' or that it's 'time to put a new crown on that tooth'.

In some instances, it can be due to recurrent decay. After you have a crown or filling placed (for example), the restoration itself may not be damaged, but your natural teeth is still going to be susceptible to getting cavities (e.g. underneath a crown or on a filled tooth, there's another surface of the tooth that develops a cavity). You might not have any sensitivity or symptoms at the time we recommend a replacement, but we would let you know what we see, so that you can plan in advance. It's a good idea to redo it as soon as you can - to avoid any potential discomfort and/or costlier procedures down the line. This is one of the reasons why continuous care is so important. Just because you can't get a cavity in a crown doesn't mean that the whole tooth is going to be immune (so keep up the brushing and flossing routine)!!

Over time, restoration materials can also wear down and/or break off (e.g. the clasps of a denture or a bridge just snaps). Once wear and tear starts showing or a bridge breaks, it is time to get a replacement. Sometimes a damaged denture can be taken to the lab and repaired, but sometimes a new one is recommended - especially if it no longer fits properly.

On the other side of the coin, your tooth might not be getting any new decay, but, let's say you accidentally bite down on something hard (like a chicken bone or an olive pit) - right onto your restoration. In the best case, nothing happens. In a slightly less convenient case, the crown comes off in one piece (no worries - this can often be recemented). In a slightly worse case, the crown is cracked - and in this instance, a new one would be recommended if it cannot simply be recemented. In possibly the worst scenario, let's say a large filling comes our and your tooth splits all the way down to the root. Ouch.

It's worthwhile to mention that for some people, breakage and damage can happen even without the hard bone or olive pit: if someone has a heavy bite, it can put a lot of pressure on their teeth whenever they are chewing things and it can leave them more prone to breaking restorations (and their natural teeth).

When a person grinds their teeth or clenches their jaw, then restorations are also not expected to last as long as they could in someone who does not clench or grind their teeth. Again, this has to do with the amount of force loaded onto the teeth and restorations.

Finally, sometimes a replacement may be suggested for aesthetic purposes - for example, in the cases where a person with silver fillings and/or metal crowns wants tooth-coloured replacements. Most of our existing patients only have tooth-coloured restorations, so this request is rare at our office, but we do occasionally have new clients coming in from other offices with this request.

Have questions about your restoration replacements? Contact us!


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