A common question in our office is how long does a tooth filling last? Depending on the type of material used and how well you maintain your oral health and follow instructions, you can extend the restoration’s life. Although a tooth filling can last for several years, it won’t last forever. You can make sure the filing last a long time. First, let’s discuss what is a tooth filling is and the materials used.
What is a tooth filling?
The most common use of a filling is to treat an area of decay, also known as a cavity. Your dentist will treat a cavity by removing the decayed portion of the tooth and filling the space with a dental material.
The procedure requires that your dentist use a local anesthetic to numb the area around the tooth. Next, we will use a drill or an air abrasion instrument or laser to remove the tooth’s decayed portion. The goal of the procedure is to stop the cavity from spreading and restore the tooth’s strength. The next step is for the dentist to probe the area to ensure the decay is completely removed and clean away bacteria or any debris.
Dentist Notes: Dental fillings are also used to fix cracked or broken teeth and teeth that have been worn down from misuse from nail-biting or tooth grinding. A dental filling will last for several years; it won’t last forever.
Common types of tooth fillings:
- Amalgam Fillings are the most common filling material because they are durable and effective. An amalgam filling is made from a mixture of metals. It’s common to expect a metal filling to last for about 15 years before requiring a replacement, but the length of time can change based on various factors. If you grind or clench your teeth, then expect the fillings not to last as long.
- Composite Fillings are tooth-colored fillings made from a mixture of fine glass and plastic particles. One benefit is that we can customize this filling to match your enamel to blend in when you smile. A composite filling is also very durable and generally last 10 to 12 years.
- Metal fillings include gold or silver amalgam. Both metals are very durable, and gold is ten times more than silver amalgam. A metal filling is a bit more durable than a composite filling and lasts as long as 10-15 years.
- Ceramic fillings are usually made of porcelain, are tooth-colored, and are more resistant to staining than composite fillings. Ceramic fillings are a durable choice and are nearly as expensive as gold cavity filling and generally last more than 15 years.
- Glass ionomer fillings are a blend of acrylic and glass that releases fluoride to help protect teeth. Glass ionomer fillings are weaker than other fillers. They are typically used for small cavities near the gum line. And may need to be replaced in as little as five years.
Taking care of a tooth filling to maintain a beautiful smile
Tooth decay is the biggest threat to your oral health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 92% of adults have had at least one cavity. If you’re one of the 92%, then most likely, you have had a filling to stop the decay and restore tooth strength. Here’s what you need to know to ensure your tooth stays strong and healthy.
- Always brush twice a day thoroughly with fluoride toothpaste, and floss daily.
- Restrict sugary, sticky snacks and embrace healthier alternatives
- Rinse with an alcohol-free, therapeutic mouth rinse to decrease oral bacteria
- Avoid tobacco products, and restrict foods that can stain your fillings. Start making it a habit to rinse your mouth with water when you do eat these foods.
- Choose water instead of acidic drinks like sodas and juices
- Avoid biting down on hard foods and chewing ice
- See a dentist at least annually for check-ups and cleanings, and more often if recommended by your dentist.
If you’re experiencing some sensitivity or pain around your filling, it’s best to contact your dentist right away and schedule an oral exam. We will determine if it’s time to have your filling replaced to continue protecting your smile.
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