Cavities and tooth decay are extremely common dental problems – in fact, nearly 90 percent of adults have some form of tooth decay. Fillings are the most efficient way to treat cavities, as they are long-lasting and restore your tooth’s function. While fillings are very durable, they do have a lifespan, and it’s important to get them replaced when they wear out. At Mill Dam Dental Care, we help our clients with both new and replacement fillings to keep your teeth healthy. How long do fillings last? Here’s what you need to know about how long they last, when to get them replaced, and how to care for your fillings.
Factors That Affect the Lifespan of Fillings
There are a variety of factors that affect the overall lifespan of your fillings. While the average lifespan of a filling is approximately 10 to 15 years, some fillings last a longer, while others need to be replaced earlier. It is possible for fillings to last for 30-plus years with excellent oral care. Here are some of the external factors that can affect the lifespan of your fillings.
- Type of Filling: There are a few different types of fillings that dentists might use to repair cavities, some of which last longer than others. We’ll go over the different types of fillings and how long they usually last later in this article.
- Location of Filling: The placement of the filling in your mouth will also affect how long it lasts. Some teeth wear down more quickly than others based on how you speak and chew your food.
- Size of Filling: The size of your filling will also affect its overall lifespan. In general, smaller fillings tend to last longer and are less likely to need repairs than large fillings.
- Oral Hygiene: An excellent oral hygiene routine can help your fillings last longer by preventing further tooth decay. Thoroughly brushing and flossing your teeth each day as well as visiting the dentist regularly will help keep your fillings in good condition.
- Diet and Lifestyle: Your diet and lifestyle have a big effect on your oral hygiene overall, including how long your fillings last. Hard, chewy, and sugary foods all have the potential to break fillings or cause them to wear down. Habits like smoking and excess alcohol consumption can also cause damage to your fillings.
Types of Fillings and Their Average Lifespan
Here are some of the most popular types of fillings and approximately how long they last.
- Amalgam Fillings – Amalgam fillings are metal fillings made with a mixture of elemental mercury, silver, tin, and copper. These tried-and-true fillings are very durable and affordable, and they’ve been a go-to for treating tooth decay for over a century. These fillings usually last around 15 years.
- Composite Fillings – Composite fillings have become popular in recent years for their natural look and feel. They are made from resins that can be matched to the color of the surrounding tooth. However, these fillings are not as durable as other types of fillings, and tend to last for 7-10 years.
- Ceramic Fillings – Ceramic fillings are made with porcelain and are fitted to the tooth. They are relatively durable and have a natural look, but they are also very expensive. They usually last about 15 years.
- Gold Fillings – Gold fillings are extremely durable and usually last for over 20 years. However, gold fillings are the most expensive type of filling on the market.
Signs Your Filling Needs to Be Replaced
It’s important to keep an eye on your fillings and contact your dentist if you notice anything abnormal. If your filling has been damaged, it’s important to replace it right away to prevent further tooth problems. In particular, it’s very important to get loose or chipped fillings replaced so that you don’t cut your mouth or swallow the filling.
Signs that your filling needs to be replaced include:
- Sensitivity to touch or temperature
- Discoloration of the affected tooth
- Cracks or chips in the filling
- Rough or jagged edges
- Loose fillings
How to Make Your Fillings Last Longer
While most fillings do need to be replaced eventually, there are many things you can do proactively to extend their lifespan.
Brush and Floss Regularly
Simple oral hygiene practices will go a long way in keeping your fillings in good condition. Make sure you’re brushing your teeth at least twice per day, as well as brushing after eating sweet or sticky foods. Using an electric toothbrush is the most effective way to prevent plaque from building up. You’ll also want to make sure you’re flossing each day to remove food from between your teeth.
Get Dental Check-Ups Regularly
Dentists can identify oral issues that you wouldn’t be able to spot on your own, including potential problems with your fillings. Make sure you’re getting regular check-ups with your dentist to keep your fillings in good condition.
Healthy Diet and Lifestyle
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle will also help your fillings last longer. Opt for a healthy, balanced diet and keep sticky, sugary foods to a minimum. Avoid smoking and keep your alcohol consumption limited.
Use a Mouthguard
If you grind your teeth at night, make sure to wear a mouthguard to prevent your fillings from wearing down. Your dentist can help you get a mouthguard that is formed to your teeth.
Replace Your Old Fillings Proactively
If you have old fillings that have reached the 10-15 year mark, talk to your dentist about them to see what course of action they recommend. They will help you replace your fillings proactively if necessary to avoid problems down the line.
How long do fillings last? Most fillings last around 15 years, but they’re capable of lasting even longer with excellent care. Regular dental care will help keep your fillings looking and feeling great for years to come. Mill Dam Dental Care is Virginia Beach’s leading dental provider and can both install and replace fillings. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment!