27 Nov How Long Do Fillings Last?
If you have a cavity in one or several of your teeth, your dentist has probably recommended dental fillings. The immediate relief this dental procedure provides renders it the best way to address cavities. However, before investing in a dental filling, it is important to know that unfortunately, this procedure is not a permanent fix.
So, how long do fillings last? The longevity of your filling is affected by several factors. A few of the things that can have an impact on how long your filling will last include:
- Type of filling material that is used.
- Size of the cavity that is being filled.
- Oral hygiene routines after receiving the filling.
It is safe to assume that your filling will last anywhere from five to thirty years.
If you are like us, you are hoping to have a filling that lasts for thirty years, or even longer! In this article, we hope to inform you of the various types of fillings and other facts related to finding a filling that works for you.
What Are Dental Fillings?
Dental fillings are the most effective way to treat a cavity in one or more teeth. A cavity is defined as “an area of decay in a tooth”. Most individuals in the United States have had or will have at least one cavity. Although cavities are much more prevalent in children, an individual of any age can develop this condition.
To treat a dental cavity, a dentist will first use a drill to remove the decaying area of the tooth. Doing so ensures that the decay will not spread further, impacting additional teeth or even the gums. After the decayed area has been removed, the hole will be filled using a dental filling.
Your dentist will fill your cavity using one of several filling materials. The most common filling materials include the following:
- composite resins
- silver amalgam
- ceramic or porcelain
Once your dentist completes the dental filling procedure, your tooth will return to its strong, healthy state.
How Long Do Fillings Last?
The longevity of a dental filling depends on several factors. Things such as the size and severity of your cavity, the filling material used, and your oral hygiene practices all impact the lifespan of your filling.
Gold Dental Fillings
There are several options for filling materials. Gold fillings last the longest. In most cases, a gold filling lasts anywhere between 15 to 30 years. However, many patients shy away from gold fillings as they are incredibly visible, especially in teeth towards the front of the mouth.
Silver Amalgam Fillings
Dental fillings made of silver amalgam are known to last between 10 to 15 years. This makes them the second most durable option. Silver amalgam fillings are more modern and much less expensive than the gold alternative. However, some patients are wary of this type of filling as it contains mercury, copper, and tin.
Composite Resin Fillings
Composite resin fillings are quickly becoming the most popular option. This type of filling material is comprised of glass or quartz that provides a finished filling that blends into your natural tooth. There is a downside to composite resin fillings. Unfortunately, this type of filling will only last between 5 to 7 years. However, if your cavity is small, this type of filling may still be an option.
Ceramic Dental Fillings
Ceramic fillings are often the best option. Their natural appearance along with their longevity provides the optimal solution. A ceramic filling is made of a material such as porcelain and can last up to 15 years.
Your dentist will provide valuable advice as to which type of filling material will provide you with the most long-lasting results.
Proper Care Practices for Fillings
Taking proper care of your dental fillings will provide you with optimal results. Many types of dental fillings can last longer than their average lifespan with consistent dental hygiene.
Through Daily Brushing
Brushing thoroughly twice each day is important for everyone, even without dental fillings. However, the addition of dental fillings makes this task even more necessary. Daily brushing and flossing eliminate the potential for additional cavities that could impact existing fillings.
Avoid Hard Foods
One of the main culprits in decreased longevity of dental fillings is hard foods. Chewing on hard foods or ice cubes can cause your filling to crack. Additionally, chewy foods should be avoided, especially in the area of the filling.
Bi-Annual Dental Checkups
When you have dental fillings, it’s important to make your bi-annual dental checkups a priority. Professional cleanings can increase the lifespan of your dental filling. Your dentist will also be able to assess the condition of your dental fillings, allowing you to prevent a dental emergency in many cases.
Choose Water of Acidic Beverages
Another thing that can have a negative effect on your dental fillings is drinking acidic beverages in excess. Water is always the best beverage choice. However, after drinking highly acidic beverages such as coffee, soda, or juice, be sure to rinse your mouth thoroughly. This will prevent the breakdown of the filling materials.
Alternatives to Dental Fillings
Dental fillings are a common dental procedure. They are also the most effective way to repair a decaying tooth. In many cases, dental fillings can be avoided simply by practicing proper oral hygiene. If you don’t have a cavity in the first place, you won’t require a dental filling.
One situation which oftentimes does not require a filling is when a child has a cavity in a baby tooth. Since this tooth will eventually fall out, it is not necessary to repair the decay. Your child’s dentist may advise removing the decayed area, but filling may be an unneeded expense.
However, when an adult tooth is impacted by a cavity, it is important to address it before the decay spreads throughout your mouth.
There are exciting new techniques that are arriving on the dental scene that may eliminate the need for dental fillings! Procedures that use Silver Diamine Fluoride have shown great promise in preventing the growth of decay. Although this technique would not remove the decaying area, it may be effective in cases where the cavity is small.
How Much Do Fillings Cost?
The cost of your dental filling will depend greatly on your unique situation. Many individuals have dental coverage through their insurance which covers this necessary procedure. However, in the event that your dental filling is an out of pocket expense, it is important to weigh your options carefully.
A dental filling is an important investment in your oral health. By addressing decay immediately, you eliminate the potential for more serious issues caused by the infected tooth. The cost of your filling will vary based on a few factors including the following:
- size of the cavity
- location of the cavity
- filling material used
- other complications
In any situation, your dentist will be able to advise you on a dental filling procedure and material that works for both your situation and your budget.
Final Thoughts on Dental Fillings
Although a dental filling is not a permanent solution, it is the most effective way to address a cavity in one or more teeth. Luckily, some types of dental fillings can last longer than 30 years. The longevity of your dental filling will depend largely on the type of dental filling material that is used.
The various types of filling materials all have their own pros and cons. While gold fillings are the most durable, they are also pricey and quite visible. Composite resin fillings, on the other hand, appear completely natural in the mouth. However, they have the shortest lifespan, usually lasting only 5 to 7 years.
In addition to the type of filling material that is used for your dental fillings, your oral healthcare habits will also affect the longevity of your fillings. Practicing proper oral hygiene such as brushing and flossing daily, avoiding hard or sticky foods, and maintaining bi-annual dental checkups are the best ways to increase the longevity of your dental filling.
Working with a Tulsa Dentist is the best way to decide which type of dental filling is best for your unique situation. Click here for more information regarding dental fillings and other dental procedures.
Are dental crowns better than dental fillings? Both dental crowns and fillings have a unique place in the realm of dental care. Crowns and bridges can be used in situations that require a tooth or several teeth to be removed due to infection or disease. On the other hand, fillings are used to address minor decay in the form of cavities. In some situations where a cavity has progressed to an advanced state, a dental crown may need to be used to repair the situation.
What causes cavities? Simply put, a cavity is a form of decay in a tooth. The condition can be caused by poor oral hygiene or bacteria which eat through a tooth. Additionally, some individuals are simply more prone to cavities based on genetic factors, despite their best attempts at oral hygiene. Almost 90% of individuals in the United States will have at least one cavity in their lifetime. Dental fillings are the best treatment for cavities.