Ask The Dentist: Filling failures explained

Lucy Stock, Dentist at Gentle Dental Care, Belfast, explains why some people's filling are more likely to fail and require replacement than others

If you put a bit of daily effort into keeping your teeth clean, your fillings will last longer and you will need less dentistry.
Lucy Stock

MANY people feel that their mouth is the Forth Bridge, constantly needing fillings changed. So what's going on and how can you achieve a more stable mouth and less visits to the dentist?

New research may shed some light on what is happening. The research, published in Frontiers in Medicine, shows that people who drink alcohol or men who smoke are more likely to suffer a failed dental filling.

Strikingly, the research team also found that a genetic difference in some patients is associated with increased filling failure rates.

The team found that there was a link between increased filling failure and a gene for an enzyme found in teeth. The researchers hypothesise that the enzyme might be able to break down the bond between the filling and the tooth surface, potentially leading to failure.

However, more research is needed before a definite conclusion could be drawn.

"A better understanding of individual susceptibility to dental disease and variation in treatment outcomes will allow the dental field to move forward," says Alexandre Vieira, a researcher involved in the study.

"In the future, genetic information may be used to personalise dental treatments and enhance treatment outcomes."

Fillings need re-done for various reasons. The main one is diet. If there's a sugar party going on in your mouth too often then new decay will form at the edges of the filling.

The soft decay then spreads out under the filling and eventually it will fall out.

To prevent the spread of decay reduce how often you eat or drink sugar. By going longer between sugary foods you give your saliva a chance to do its work. Saliva will naturally neutralise your mouth allowing your teeth to harden up and help prevent the fillings needing re-done.

Those that care for their car carefully with regular cleaning and treat it with respect have a better car for longer. It's the same with teeth, if you put a bit of daily effort into keeping them clean you will have less problems, your fillings will last longer and you will need less dentistry.

Effective cleaning is key. If you can see soft white plaque on your teeth after brushing or your gums bleed then seek advice from your dental team as to how to clean your teeth and gums better.

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