Why teeth break and fillings don’t last.
Imagine this situation we see every day. A patient’s teeth have fairly large fillings, large cracks or both. Alternative scenario: the filling is loose or has fallen out, and the patient wants a new filling. Often this will work. But fillings are not always the best solution.
The interesting thing is that cracks and big fillings don’t cause any pain… until it’s too late and the tooth breaks! When this happens it can be extremely painful, and in some cases there is no other option but to take the offending tooth out.
Teeth are like any other part of the body: they wear out over time with use. Fillings are placed to plug holes in order to prevent any further damage and to allow us to chew and function normally. However, fillings actually weaken teeth.
How do fillings weaken teeth?
Healthy, untreated teeth are one single unit. As we chew the tooth flexes and moves as a whole in one direction. But with a big filling in the tooth it becomes two or even three separate parts that often flex opposite ways as we chew. This eventually causes the tooth to crack and finally break. Often teeth split straight through to the nerve, which can be really painful. If this happens, usually the tooth has to be taken out.
The rule of thumb is: the bigger the filling, the weaker the tooth. When a tooth is more than 60% filled, it is very likely that it will break in the future and is a good candidate to be strengthened. Depending on the situation, 50% can already be a red flag.
How can a tooth be strengthened?
The long-term solution is to remove all the cracks and old filling material, and to strengthen the tooth with a crown or dental on-lay. This forms the tooth into one single strong unit, and stops all flexing and cracking.
Our crowns and ceramic restorations are designed, made and fitted all in one appointment so you have your new strong tooth the same day, in a little over an hour.
It is a quick, comfortable and painless procedure. And, best of all, crowns are the longest lasting treatment option a dentist can provide. Ask us about one-visit CEREC crowns to stop the failing fillings cycle.