If you've just had your first filling, or you've lost fillings in the past, you may be worried about this one falling out. A fallen-out filling means more time in the dentist's chair and could cause further damage to your teeth. While no filling lasts forever, there are ways to preserve their lifespan. Take note of these 3 tips to avoid filling loss, and make sure you visit your dentist immediately if your filling comes loose.
Keep Plaque at Bay
Fillings are 'cemented' onto your tooth, so it's imperative that you do your best to prevent tooth decay. If your tooth begins to wear away and there's not enough bone for the filling to hold on to, it won't stay in your mouth for very long. Most tooth decay is caused by the bacteria in plaque. This bacteria produces acids which break down your teeth. If you keep your plaque levels as low as possible, you'll be better protected against decay. As everyone knows, the best way to keep teeth healthy is to brush at least twice a day. However, brushing alone isn't enough to remove all plaque. You'll also need to use floss or interdental brushes daily to tackle the areas your toothbrush can't reach. Keeping your mouth free of harmful bacteria will prevent decay forming under your filling and loosening it.
Get a Mouthguard
Do you grind or clench your teeth at night? Many people do. Like most affected Australians, you may even be unaware that you do it. Grinding (known as 'bruxism') can cause damage to your teeth in numerous ways, from enamel erosion to gum recession. For those with fillings, one of the most concerning effects of bruxism is filling loss. When you grind and clench your teeth in your sleep, you produce enough force to crack a walnut. This pressure, combined with the back-and-forth grinding motion, can cause fillings to fracture and come loose. To avoid this, talk to your dentist about getting a custom-fitted mouthguard. A mouthguard absorbs some of the pressure exerted on your teeth and prevents some of the motion that loosens fillings.
Change Your Diet
Eating the wrong kinds of foods puts your filling at risk. As mentioned above, it's important to avoid bacteria and decay. To produce their destructive acid, bacteria need to consume sugars. When you consume excessive amounts of sugar, you're providing bacteria with all the sustenance it needs to harm your teeth and loosen your filling. Try to keep sweet foods like lollies, fruit, cookies, soft drinks and juices to a minimum. Sticky sweets like toffee are the worst culprits -- they're hard to remove from teeth, and they can even be strong enough to pull fillings straight out. Also, watch out for carbohydrates like potato chips and bread. The starch in these foods gets stuck to your teeth and breaks down into glucose sugars. If you find it hard to give up sugary foods, why not try sugar-free gum and mints made with xylitol? Xylitol is a sweetener which has been proven to keep teeth healthy.