Commandment #2–Nothing lasts forever

Nothing lasts forever

The band, KANSAS, crooned: “Nothing lasts forever but the Earth and Sky.” As much as my patients wish otherwise, everything in dentistry (except extractions, of course!) has a finite lifespan, too. One can assume that the useful life of a typical filling will average somewhere between 10 – 15 years; it’s a “Bell Curve” like we all remember from the test grades in high school. Some may not make the average; some may stay in the tooth longer, but all will eventually develop recurrent decay due to leakage and/or break the tooth under the forces of clenching/chewing combined with the oxidation (“rust”) of the material. Materials that do not corrode will always last longest. The smaller the filling, the longer it lasts–and vice-versa.

Preemptive dentistry

Fig. 1. But the shingles are still there!

My patients know that I L-O-V-E! analogies. I seem to have one for almost every condition that presents in my office. Material breakdown/failure is a favorite topic. Everyone has seen an old barn like the one in Fig. 1 at some time in their lives. The shingles are still there, but the barn is destroyed underneath it–the shingles quit doing their job many years earlier!

Dental work is no different.

Small, painless holes in teeth can lead to big problems.

Fig. 2. This is NOT going to end well! Better to have patched that “little” hole before the structure is destroyed.

The dentist can identify and repair/restore small issues before they become big ones (see Fig. 2). Most patients don’t realize that the fillings that your parents had your dentist place for you as a teen (or you had done in your early adult years) were not meant to last forever, but rather, to “get you through” until the teeth are lost to gum disease, fracture, or extensive decay, or until you can afford to upgrade them to more permanent restorations that Mom and Dad won’t have to pay for…

Beautiful and well-maintained.

Fig. 3: Attention and meticulous maintenance will result in long-lasting health, function and beauty in dentistry, too!

With a little luck and good health, you WILL outlive your dental work. So, to make the most of it, one must do the things that we consistently NAG our patients about: Floss and brush the teeth every night; cut out the excess sugar and acidic food and drink in the diet; see the dentist twice a year and abide by the 5 Commandments of Dentistry that are being discussed in my blog!


Until next time–Keep Smiling! Please check in again, or visit my website at:

Dr. Bobbitt’s Website

P.S. Don’t forget to “LIKE” us on Facebook—tell a friend, spread the word:

Dr. Bobbitt’s Facebook Page.

Next time: Commandment #3

3 thoughts on “Commandment #2–Nothing lasts forever

  1. Pingback: Rule of Thumb #1: Be Pre-emptive | Dr. Bobbitt's Dental Pearls

  2. Pingback: Commandment #4–Do it Once; Do it the Right Way–the First Time. | Dr. Bobbitt's Dental Pearls

  3. Pingback: Commandment #5–The “Apartment Building Theory” | Dr. Bobbitt's Dental Pearls

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