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Dental fillings are some of the most common dental treatments carried out in Australia every year. Although more focus is placed on preventative care in modern dentistry, most adults experience dental fillings at some point during their lifetime.  

Do tooth fillings last a lifetime? While fillings are effective in repairing damaged teeth and preventing bacterial infections, they don’t last forever. How long do tooth fillings last? Their lifespan depends on the type of filling and how you care for your teeth.

 

Types of Fillings

So, how long do tooth fillings last? One of the primary factors in filling longevity is the material used. Some of the most common types of fillings include: 

 

  • Composite Resin

At Dental Spot, the material we use for our dental fillings is tooth-coloured composite resin. It is a mercury-free material that can be matched to the colour of your teeth, resulting in an aesthetically pleasing smile with no discolouration. Composite is made from a combination of acrylic and ceramic resins, meaning it has strong bonding properties that allow it to blend seamlessly with your natural teeth. 

There are several key advantages to using composite for dental fillings. Due to the bonding capabilities, composite fillings don’t require as much of your tooth to be removed as with other materials. This preserves the structure of your tooth, making it stronger. It also makes the procedure less invasive. 

Composite fillings can be repaired easily. Even if it experiences wear and tear, one of our dentists can clean the tooth before repairing your filling. Composite may also be used to replace old fillings made from different materials. Compared to other filling types like amalgam or gold, composite has better insulation properties, reducing tooth sensitivity to hot and cold. 

Composite fillings last around 7 years on average. However, with good oral hygiene, they can last for more than 10. 

 

  • Amalgam

Amalgam was the standard dental filling material for over 150 years. It is made from a mixture of tin alloy particles, silver, copper, and liquid mercury. 

While this type of filling can last for more than 15 years, the presence of mercury means that it poses a risk of toxicity. Mercury fillings are not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women, children, people with neurological issues, kidney problems, or mercury allergies. 

 

  • Ceramic

materials how long do tooth fillings last croydonCeramic fillings are developed from porcelain and can last up to 15 years or more. Although durable, ceramic fillings are difficult to make, requiring specialist equipment, such as a milling machine.

Ceramic fillings are often custom made, meaning patients must undergo 3D scans and x-rays before fitting.

The process of fitting and fabricating ceramic fillings makes them very expensive.

 

  • Gold

Gold fillings are a lot more expensive than composite or amalgam varieties. Unlike composite fillings, they can’t be matched to the existing colour of your teeth. The main advantage of gold fillings is that they are durable, with an average lifespan of around 20 years.

 

How Long Do Tooth Fillings Last? Replacing Dental Fillings

Over time, persistent use of your teeth for chewing or clenching can damage the filling. Secondary decay may also erode the tooth around the filling, allowing bacteria to lodge between the interior of the tooth and the filling. This bacteria is extremely difficult to remove using a toothbrush or dental floss, meaning it can cause significant damage to your nerves, gums, and oral tissue. 

Regular dental checkups are the best way to determine if your filling needs to be replaced. At Dental Spot, we use X-rays and explorer probes to check for gaps in the filling seal and potential bacteria near your filling. We can then advise on whether further dental care is necessary.

 

Signs of Compromised Dental Fillings

If you’re wondering how long do tooth fillings last, remember that even if the filling is meant to last over a decade, it could become damaged sooner. A filling may become compromised between dental visits. Signs that your filling is worn or damaged include:

  • Visible cracking in the filling
  • Toothache
  • Newfound sensitivity to heat and cold
  • Discolouration
  • The filling falls out
  • The filling is older than the average lifespan

 

Caring for Dental Fillings

People often ask, ‘how do tooth fillings last beyond their average lifecycle?’ Good oral hygiene and a healthy diet can contribute to longer lasting fillings. Here are healthy habits for taking care of your fillings:

  • Visit Dental Spot for regular checkups
  • Maintain healthy brushing, rinsing, and flossing routines, paying careful attention to fillings
  • Limit your sugar intake 
  • Avoid nail-biting, chewing hard objects, or opening things with your teeth 
  • Use a mouthguard when playing sports
  • Book a dental appointment as soon as you detect an issue

 

Contact Dental Spot for Quality Dental Care

Don’t wait for dental problems to occur before taking action. At Dental Spot, we believe that preventative dentistry is an integral approach to managing your oral health. Whether you require a replacement filling or suspect you have a cavity, contact Dental Spot to book an appointment on (02) 9158 6115.

 

 

Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.

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