While it’s important to brush regularly and visit your dentist at scheduled intervals, sometimes diligent care isn’t enough to prevent decay. If you end up with a cavity, you may need a dental filling.
When deciding where to get your filling and which kind to choose, consider that all types of fillings have a lifespan. How long do tooth fillings last? It depends on many factors. Do tooth fillings last just a few years, or can you make them last a lifetime?
Why Do You Need Dental Fillings?
Cavities occur, even if you take care of your teeth. When they do, you need your dentist to take action to prevent further decay or infection. A filling closes the cavity and keeps your tooth from becoming even more damaged.
If you leave the cavity untreated, you may face a more invasive treatment. For example, if you delay filling the tooth, you may require a root canal before repair. You may even lose the tooth if the damage is too significant.
How to Know You Need a Filling?
Sometimes it’s hard to know when you need a filling. Understanding the warning signs of decay can help.
If you begin feeling tooth sensitivity different from what you’re accustomed to, it’s time to see a dentist. This indicator is especially true if you are experiencing sensitivity to hot or cold in a single tooth.
Another indicator that you need dental fillings is if food is continually getting stuck between particular teeth. You may also notice that when you floss, the string gets snagged or tears. Both can signal that you may have a cavity or a crack that you should have filled.
Discomfort when chewing on one side of your mouth or a constant toothache in a particular tooth is also a definite sign that it’s time to ask your dentist to take a look.
Different Types of Fillings
There are several types of dental fillings that your dentist may use to repair the cavity. Which types of fillings your dentist offers you will depend on the depth and placement of the filling, along with cost and your personal preference.
While amalgam fillings were once among the most common types of fillings, having been used for more than a century, white fillings are now the most popular option, given that they are metal-free and more aesthetically pleasing. White dental fillings are typically made from a ceramic material, like porcelain or made out of composite resin.
If your tooth is heavily decayed and the visual appearance or structure cannot be repaired with a filling alone, your dentist may recommend a dental crown. As with fillings, crowns are either metal, porcelain, or a combination. The dentist may decide to use a crown if you’ve had a root canal or there are multiple cracks in the tooth.
How Long Do Tooth Fillings Last?
Do tooth fillings last a lifetime? Unfortunately, dental fillings don’t last forever. For example, amalgam fillings only last 20 years on average, as do white ceramic fillings. Composite resin fillings only last an average of 7 years.
Some factors can wear out fillings earlier than these anticipated lifespans. For example, if you grind your teeth, you may find that dental fillings don’t last as long as they should. Additional decay and trauma can reduce the longevity of your fillings if the tooth with the filling sustains further damage.
How Do Tooth Fillings Last Longer?
Regardless of the types of fillings you have, you can increase the chances of longevity with a few good habits. Maintaining a diligent oral hygiene routine with regular dental checkups is the best way to prevent further decay and protect your existing fillings. You should also avoid hard foods, like jawbreakers and nuts, which could chip or crack a filling.
How to Tell if Your Filling Needs Replacing?
When it is time to replace your dental filling, the signs may be subtle. Your environment and habits play a role in how long do tooth fillings last.
Signs that you need a replacement are not always the same as the signs that you need a filling in the first place. If you can see the filling and notice it is cracked or has become discoloured, talk to your dentist about a replacement. Oral discomfort, like a toothache or sensitivity to hot and cold in that tooth, can also indicate that it’s time to replace the filling.
Most often, you’ll learn you need a new filling when you go for a checkup. Dentists use an explorer to probe the edges of fillings to ensure there is still a tight seal. While doing X-rays, your dentist may also see additional decay forming before you feel its effects. Further decay on an X-ray is a good indicator that the filling isn’t secure any longer.
Radiant Smiles Dental Group Can Help
Do tooth fillings last? Although they don’t last a lifetime, your fillings can endure for 7-20 years, depending on how well you care for them and the material they’re made from. Knowing the average timeframe for how long do tooth fillings last can make it easier to realise you need to visit your dentist for a replacement or repair. Contact Radiant Smiles Dental Group today on (03) 9000 0537 if you need a dental filling or want to inquire about a replacement.
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.