Tooth fillings provide important restorations for teeth that have been damaged by tooth decay. While they may not last forever, their lifespan depends on the types of fillings you choose, as well as how well you care for your teeth and what you expose them to. Let’s take an in-depth look at the question of how long do tooth fillings last.
What Are Dental Fillings?
Dental fillings are used to fill in the gaps in your teeth that might be left by tooth decay. Your dentist will first remove any decayed matter from your tooth and then clean it out, before filling the hole up with your choice of filling material. In cases where the decayed area is very large and affects the functionality of your tooth, your dentist may recommend a dental crown or cap to build up a part of the tooth
What Types Of Fillings Are Available?
There are many different types of fillings available, each with its own pros and cons. Your dentist may have some preferences and may not offer all of them to you.
Amalgam is a durable filling material but it can blacken over time. It also requires quite a lot of the tooth to be removed.
Composite resin is a tooth-coloured substance that blends in well with your natural tooth colour. It is a bit more expensive than amalgam.
Gold and porcelain
Gold fillings do have the longest lifespan and gold and porcelain are the most robust. Both materials do take longer to produce and are the most expensive options. Gold and porcelain inlays need to be prepared in a laboratory, which impacts time and cost.
What Factors Affect The Lifespan Of Your Fillings?
In addition to the type of material used to fill your tooth, there are other factors that can influence how long your restoration lasts before needing to be replaced:
The size of the filling
Smaller fillings are less likely to be affected by impact than larger restorations.
The complexity of the procedure
Complex fillings that require a lot of drilling or tooth preparation may not last as long as simple procedures.
If you are a tooth grinder or experience trauma to your mouth, this can disrupt your filling. Using your teeth as tools and using them to open containers, jars and bottles can compromise your tooth fillings so they wear earlier.
Your dental hygiene practices
If you have poor dental hygiene practices, it can lead to further decay around the restored part of your tooth, which weakens the dental filling.
So How Long Do Tooth Fillings Last?
How do tooth fillings last for longer? The answer is simply through good dental hygiene practices and regular visits to your dentist. If a filling is starting to loosen or shrink, or if there is new decay on a restored tooth, your dentist has the best chance of picking the early signs of it up. It’s important to have a dental check-up and clean twice a year to stay on top of your oral care.
How long your fillings last depends on the factors listed above, but here are some averages to help you with forward planning:
Do tooth fillings last: amalgam
Amalgam fillings can last for 10 to 15 years before they need to be replaced.
Do tooth fillings last: composite resin
On average composite resin fillings can last for five to ten years.
Do tooth fillings last: gold and porcelain
Gold and porcelain fillings can last for 15 to 20 years.
How Long Does The Tooth Filling Process Take?
It usually only takes around 15 minutes for your dentist to prepare and fill a tooth. Dentists perform fillings every day and it is an efficient way to deal with dental decay.
What To Expect From The Tooth Filling Procedure?
- Your dentist will inspect the extent of the decay and may want to take an x-ray if it appears to run deep or if the area is large.
- Your dentist will inject some anaesthetic into the surrounding gum so you do not feel pain during the procedure
- Your dentist will use a special drill to remove the decayed matter from your tooth and shape it for the filling
- A special glue will be applied to your tooth before the filling material is placed and left to harden. In the case of composite resin, your dentist will probably shine a blue light on it to speed it up.
How Will You Feel After Your Filling?
Some tooth sensitivity may occur after dental fillings but any pain you felt because of the decay should be gone. You might experience some sensitivity for the first week, especially with hot and cold beverages but this should improve. In the event that you do experience pain or sensitivity when biting down, you may need to have the filling adjusted by your dentist as it may have been built up too high.
For a more personal answer to how long do tooth filings last, it’s best to speak to a professional, and tooth decay should be treated sooner rather than later:
Phone: (02) 9158 6213
Pyrmont NSW 2009
Phone: (02) 9158 6756
Illawong, NSW 2234
Phone: (02) 9159 6083
Sylvania Waters NSW 2224