Dental fillings are a common solution today to help you maintain a healthy mouth and smile. With continuing improvements in dental technology, these fillings are also becoming more and more reliable, with many blending in seamlessly so as not to alter or disrupt your smile at all. Still, they aren’t meant to last forever, and much will depend on the type you have and how you care for them.
Different Types of Dental Fillings and How Long Each One Can Last
Dental fillings can consist of different materials, and these will factor into how long each one will last. Here are the different types and their projected lifespans.
Composite Fillings / Tooth Colored Resin Fillings
Composite fillings are a popular choice today because your dentist can match them as closely as possible to the color of your surrounding teeth. They consist of a mixture of resins, both ceramic and acrylic, and do not contain any metals.
The fillings bond directly to the tooth with the help of a dental adhesive and are commonly used to fill in cavities, repair chips, and close small gaps between teeth. In general, they can last approximately 7 years, but much will depend on how large a filling you have and whether or not you continue to practice good oral hygiene on a daily basis. The smaller the fillings are, the longer they may last, even up to 10 years or more.
Ceramic or Porcelain Fillings
Ceramic or porcelain fillings, while less common than other types, are highly durable and can last a patient up to 15 years. These are more expensive but can be made to match the color of your natural teeth.
Amalgam fillings consist of a mixture of metals, including copper, silver, tin alloy, and others, and have been used by dentists for over a hundred years. While not aesthetically pleasing, they are extremely durable and less expensive than other options today. You can expect these amalgam fillings to last anywhere between 10 and 15 years.
Gold fillings are a highly durable option available today and can last you approximately 15 years or more before needing replacement. However, they are the most expensive.
How To Keep Your Dental Fillings Longer
Regardless of which type of dental filling you have, there are a few things you can do to potentially increase the lifespan and delay the need for replacement.
Continue Practicing Good Oral Hygiene
Continue your practice of good oral hygiene, including brushing and flossing daily. Also, consider using a fluoride toothpaste and an alcohol-free mouthwash that reduces the buildup of oral bacteria.
Limit Sugary and Sticky Foods
Limit sugary foods as much as possible. Excessive sugar in these foods can increase the growth of slimy biofilms forming on fillings, which can result in new cavities developing underneath as well as on adjacent teeth.
Also, limit or avoid altogether most sticky foods, including chewing gum, caramel, and gummy candies. These can pull out your fillings.
Avoid Biting Down on Hard Items
Resist biting down on hard items such as ice cubes or chips, nuts, or hard candy. Doing so can cause wear and tear on fillings and also crack, break, loosen, or knock them out.
Limit Stain-Causing Beverages
If you have mostly composite fillings, make an extra effort to limit or avoid stain-causing beverages, such as coffee, tea, and red wine. If you do drink these, try to rinse your mouth afterward until you can brush.
Schedule Bi-annual Dental Cleanings and Exams
Regular dental cleanings and exams can help you maintain good oral health and make your fillings last longer. By removing plaque and tartar from around and on the fillings, there is less likelihood that new cavities will develop. Also, your dentist will be able to determine if a filling becomes loose or unsealed, allowing bacteria to seep in and cause decay.
Signs You Need to Replace Dental Fillings
Even with all of your efforts, at some point, you will need to replace a filling. Your dentist may recommend replacement during an exam, or you may experience some of the following signs.
- Sensitivity to hot or cold
- A toothache or soreness
- A loose filling
- Noticeable cracks or small chips in the filling or the surrounding tooth
- The filling falls out
If you experience any of these signs, contact your dentist as soon as possible to schedule an appointment.
Bateson Dentistry Can Help You With All Your Dental Needs
Maintaining a healthy mouth and smile can be challenging at times. Our team here at Bateson Dentistry understands this and offers a variety of services to meet all of your dental needs. Contact our office today to find out how we can help and to schedule an appointment.