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What Causes Amalgam Filling Failure

A commonly made misconception is that your silver amalgam filling will last forever. Amalgam fillings are highly durable but are not meant to last forever. You can typically expect the average amalgam filling to last fifteen years in the mouth before needing a replacement.
Overall, amalgam fillings are very strong but will eventually fail and must be replaced with a new filling. Amalgam fillings are made with a mixture of silver, mercury, copper, tin, and zinc. Since amalgam fillings are made with metals, they are sensitive to force, temperature, and traditional aging.

What causes an Amalgam Filling to fail?

Many conditions in your mouth may cause your amalgam filling to fail, including how long the amalgam filling has been in your mouth, traditional wear and tear of the filling, the naturally occurring moisture in your mouth, and intense temperature changes in the mouth.

Fillings are forced to endure an intense amount of force. This happens through biting food, clenching the teeth, chewing gum, and even grinding the teeth. Over time, your amalgam fillings color can change from silver to black due to corrosion and their edges start to wear down. Corrosion of the filling will not affect the strength or functionality of the filling; however, it can cause further issues. Since dark fillings conduct temperatures differently, you are more likely to experience swelling of the filling that can compromise your tooth health.

Temperature changes in the mouth can cause the filling to expand and contract. This can cause tension on the tooth the filling is attached to, initiating microfractures and small gaps within the amalgam filling and the tooth.

Amalgam fillings swell, break down, and oxidize when they absorb the naturally occurring moisture in the mouth. Expansion of the filling can generate a wedging effect to begin with the tooth and the filling which can cause fractures in the tooth and in severe cases, may break off part of the tooth structure. Expansion of fillings can also cause lifting of the fillings surface, forming a gap where the filling and tooth were once attached. This allows bacteria, food, and even additional decay to develop on the tooth.

Replacing the Filling

After discovering a failing amalgam filling, replacing it with another treatment as soon as possible is essential to protect your tooth’s health. Several treatments are available for tooth decay, including dental fillings, inlays, onlays, and crowns. Dental treatments are crafted from a variety of different dental materials leaving you with many options. It is best to consult with your dentist in order to find the best form of restoration for your dental concern.

Schedule a Consultation

It is important to maintain routine dental exams up to twice a year in order to examine the health of your mouth and teeth. A dentist may notice issues that are hard for you to detect on your own. If you are interested in an appointment, contact us to schedule an appointment with South Meadows Dental & Orthodontics in Reno, Nevada.