Dental fillings do the important job of restoring damaged or decayed teeth in order to stop the decay and restore the tooth to full function. Natural teeth can last for the rest of your lifetime with good care and even though fillings do not last forever, they can extend the lifespan of your teeth for many years. The length of time that fillings last depends on various factors such as the filling material, the placement and position of the filling and how well you uphold your oral care. Let’s take a look at how long do tooth fillings last.
What Causes Dental Decay?
Your best defence against dental decay is brushing and flossing twice a day and visiting your dentist twice a year. Old food, sugar and debris that is removed from tooth surfaces start to corrode the dental enamel that protects your teeth. When this happens, it’s important to have the decay removed and the tooth filled. A smaller filling is much less trouble and expense than a large area of the tooth that has been lost.
Teeth that are cracked or chipped also need to be filled because they can allow bacteria to penetrate their structure.
How Does The Dental Filling Procedure Work?
Most dentists will perform a dental x-ray to see how extensive the decay is. An x-ray will also give insights into the health of your gums and the underlying bone structure. Once your dentist has a good idea of how much decay is present, he or she will either advise you to have dental fillings or a root canal treatment.
What Types Of Fillings Are Available?
Today patients have lots of options for the materials to be used in dental fillings. The types of fillings best suited for the restoration of the cavity will depend on the position of the tooth and your budget. Gold, silver, porcelain and composite resin are all commonly used.
How Long Do Tooth Fillings Last?
Gold As A Filling Material
Gold has been used successfully in dentistry for many years. Suitable for crowns, onlays, and inlays, gold tooth fillings can last for longer than 20 years. Because of its appearance, some patients do not want to use it on teeth in the front of the mouth and most clinics do not offer this option anymore.
Silver As A Filling Material
Silver (amalgam) is a very good filling material because it is strong and robust. It is cheaper than gold, but because of its noticeable colour, dentists prefer to use it on fillings in molars because it can last long and stand the bite pressure.
Porcelain For Fillings
Porcelain blends in well with natural teeth and can be blended for a good colour match. It is suitable for use in inlays, onlays, crowns and veneers. Porcelain fillings are more brittle than metal materials and can be expected to last for an average of seven years.
Composite resin for fillings
Composite resin is a popular material for fillings because of its affordability. While it is a bit softer than porcelain and not as strong as metal filling materials it can last for up to eight years with good dental care. Its white colour makes it a good choice for aesthetic reasons especially when used on front teeth. Our team prefers using composite resin fillings for our patients.
Extending The Lifespan Of Fillings
How long your dental fillings last depends on:
- The skill of your dental practitioner
- The position and size of the filling
Larger fillings may not last as long as smaller ones. Fillings placed on the molars may also need to be replaced earlier because of the force that they bite and chew with. Over time, fillings can loosen and in the case of composite resin, may also shrink a little. This means that after some years, the filling is no longer as effective as it used to be and needs to be replaced.
In order to ensure your fillings last as long as possible, you need to
- Brush and floss twice a day
- Visit your dentist every six months
While the filling is not subject to decay, the underlying tooth is. Good dental hygiene is the surest way to prevent future decay and tooth loss in the long term.
Once your fillings are complete, the functionality of your tooth will be restored. This means it should not feel any different to your other teeth and you should be able to bite and chew with comfort.
If you want to know more about how long do tooth fillings last so you can make an informed decision about your cavities restoration, it’s best to speak to a professional. Please contact us for an appointment: (02) 9158 6312.