If you have multiple fillings, chances are you'll need to have at least one replaced during your lifetime. Silver fillings are generally expected to last 10 to 15 years, and composite resin fillings have an even shorter life expectancy. Fortunately, there are signs that let you know when to have your fillings replaced.

Damaged Fillings

For your teeth, the day-to-day grind is real—and it has a substantial impact on fillings. Despite their durability, many fillings will eventually fail due to constant pressure from biting and chewing. This is particularly evident if you suffer from bruxism (chronic teeth grinding.)

Look for small cracks along the edges of your fillings. As your fillings get older, these tiny cracks are more likely to occur. They may also develop shortly after fillings are set if the fillings are uneven with the surface of the teeth they are attached to.

If you notice any cracks, have your fillings replaced immediately.

Leaky Fillings

In addition to cracks, leaks are another common problem experienced by individuals with fillings. Leaks occur when there are small gaps between your fillings and your teeth.

If you have leaky fillings, you'll likely experience noticeable sensitivity and pain when consuming hot or cold foods and beverages. This sensitivity is normal right after your teeth are filled. But if the discomfort doesn't go away after a few weeks, have your dentist check your fillings for leaks.

Shrunken Fillings

Shrinkage is another problem that often requires fillings to be replaced. This can occur whether you have composite resin or silver fillings.

It's normal for fillings to shrink a bit as they harden; however, if your fillings shrink too much, they won't sit flush with your teeth. When this happens, saliva and other contaminants can get between your teeth and your fillings.

As you can imagine, this often leads to tooth decay when left untreated. If your fillings shrink too much, you'll likely notice discoloring. The affected teeth will also become increasingly sensitive, which is another indicator that your fillings need to be replaced.

Because of their durability, fillings last many years. But as they age, fillings will likely need to be replaced—particularly if they are over a decade old. Always keep a close eye on your fillings, making sure they aren't damaged, leaky, or shrunken. And if you notice any of the symptoms above, schedule an appointment to have your fillings examined at places like HC Dentistry.