My dentist says that I have leaky fillings. What does that mean?
Leaky fillings refers to fillings that have maybe aged and a gap has formed between the tooth and the filling, allowing decay to seep in. It can be difficult, especially for silver amalgam fillings, for a dentist to tell if there is decay under the filling. The dentist will usually check the margins of the fillings, and if there are openings between the filling and the tooth, or corrosion, or it feels a little sticky when an explorer is poked at that margin, will recommend replacing the filling.
White fillings are bonded to the tooth, meaning that there is no gap between the filling and the tooth. If they are done right and that bond is strong, it can be difficult for decay to seep in around the edges. Also, with white fillings it is easier to tell if new decay is starting to form at the edge or underneath it because the filling is somewhat translucent and will become discolored with sub-surface decay.
—Dr. David Hall
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