How Long Do Fillings Last in Teeth?

Published on: November 28, 2023
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Dental fillings are commonly used to restore teeth affected by decay or damage, providing strength and functionality while maintaining the tooth’s natural appearance. But, how long do fillings last in teeth?

The longevity of dental fillings can vary based on several factors, including the type of filling material used, the size and location of the filling, oral hygiene practices, and individual habits.

Types of Dental Fillings

When answering the question. “ How long do teeth fillings last?”, the type of filling plays a significant role. The following are the types of dental fillings:

Amalgam Fillings
Made from a blend of metals, including silver, mercury, tin, and copper, amalgam fillings have been used for decades due to their durability and affordability. They are highly resistant to wear and tear, making them a reliable option for filling cavities in molars that endure significant chewing forces.
Amalgam fillings can last for a decade or longer under proper care. Metal fillings are one of the most cost-effective filling options, which is why they are still used commonly today even with other options available.
Composite Resin Fillings
These fillings are made of a tooth-colored composite material that bonds to the tooth, providing a more aesthetically pleasing option compared to amalgam fillings. Many people prefer white fillings to hide the appearance of repairs on their teeth.
While they are durable and suitable for small to medium-sized fillings in visible areas of the mouth, composite fillings may not last as long as amalgam fillings, typically lasting around 5 to 10 years or more with proper care.
Porcelain/Ceramic Fillings
Porcelain or ceramic fillings are custom-made in a dental laboratory to match the tooth’s natural color and are highly resistant to staining. These are also referred to as inlays or onlays, providing a customized tooth covering for large fillings.
Porcelain and ceramic fillings offer excellent durability and can last for over a decade or more with proper care. However, they tend to be more expensive than other filling materials.

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Factors Affecting Filling Longevity

The type of filling used significantly impacts its longevity. Amalgam fillings are highly durable but may not be suitable for visible areas due to their metallic appearance, while composite and porcelain fillings offer better aesthetics but may not last as long as amalgam in some cases.

Other factors beyond the material that impact filling longevity include:

  • Size and Location: The size and location of the filling play a crucial role in its durability. Fillings in areas subject to heavy chewing forces, such as molars, may experience more stress and wear, potentially affecting their longevity.
  • Oral Hygiene: Proper oral hygiene practices, including regular brushing, flossing, and routine dental check-ups, are essential for maintaining filling longevity. Good oral hygiene helps prevent recurrent decay and gum disease that can compromise the filling’s integrity.
  • Bruxism (Teeth Grinding): Individuals who grind or clench their teeth (bruxism) may experience faster wear and potential damage to their fillings, reducing their lifespan.
  • Diet and Habits: Certain dietary habits, such as consuming highly acidic or sugary foods and beverages, can contribute to enamel erosion and increase the risk of decay around fillings. Additionally, habits like chewing ice or using teeth as tools can impact filling durability.
  • Dental Care: Regular dental examinations and maintenance can identify any issues with fillings early on, allowing for timely repairs or replacements before more extensive problems develop.
  • Individual Factors: Every individual’s oral health and response to dental treatments can vary, impacting the longevity of fillings.

It is essential to monitor the condition of dental fillings regularly. Dentists can detect signs of wear, cracking, or decay around the fillings during routine check-ups. If any issues are identified, prompt treatment can prevent further damage and extend the life of the filling.

Additionally, maintaining good oral hygiene, following a balanced diet, and addressing teeth grinding or clenching habits through the use of nightguards or other interventions recommended by a dentist can help prolong the life of dental fillings.

How Many Times Can a Filling Be Replaced?

The number of times a filling can be replaced largely depends on the size of the cavity, the tooth’s structural integrity, and the remaining healthy tooth structure. While fillings can typically be replaced multiple times if necessary, frequent replacement can weaken the tooth over time.

Dentists assess the tooth’s condition before replacing a filling and may consider alternative treatments if the tooth structure becomes compromised. It is essential to maintain good oral hygiene and attend regular dental check-ups to detect any issues early and preserve the tooth’s health.
A woman during a dental checkup
How long do cavity fillings last? It varies depending on multiple factors. While certain types of fillings may last longer than others, maintaining good oral hygiene, regular dental visits, and addressing any issues promptly can contribute significantly to the durability of dental fillings

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