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How Long Does a Filling Last? A Quick Guide

Considering getting dental fillings and want to know what type will suit your individual needs and give you the best results? Also, how long does a filling last?

There are several factors that contribute to the life span of a dental filling, and the type of material used is probably the most significant. Other considerations include the size of the cavity or gap being filled, the risk level of developing dental caries, diet and oral hygiene practices.

dentist checking a woman's teeth

Types of dental fillings and how long they last

Some of the most common fillings are silver amalgam, composite resin and glass ionomer cement (GIC).

  • Silver amalgam has been used to treat cavities for over a century and has been known to be a long lasting option. Beacon Cove Dental however, is an amalgam-free clinic. We do not use amalgams due to mercury concerns and the fact that they expand and contract with temperature changes over time, leading to cracks forming in teeth.
  • Composite resin has become one of the most popular in recent decades because of its adaptability to match the colour of your original teeth. Since it is bonded to the tooth structure, it provides additional support. These tend to last around 5 years but can be prone to discolouration. If the filling you need is front facing, different options can be discussed with your oral health therapist if this discolouration is a concern.
  • GIC is made of acrylic, alumina, silica and calcium. Like composite resin, it can be matched to the colour of existing teeth but it is weaker and has a higher wear rate. For this reason, we only use this option as a temporary measure only.

At Beacon Cove Dental, we recommend and use composite resin for fillings. Your dental practitioner will usually weigh up your needs and consider other factors before recommending the best material to use for your filling.

If your tooth has extensive decay and more than 50% of it needs to be treated, a crown will be recommended in order to strengthen and support the weakened tooth.

How to extend the life of your dental fillings

Dental fillings are not meant to last forever. At some point, they will need a replacement due to normal wear, fracture, discolouration or secondary decay. In some cases they can fall out because of an accident, new tooth decay, teeth grinding, or pressure from chewing or biting on something hard.

It’s important to be conscious of certain types of foods that can damage fillings and avoid them as much as possible. Maintaining a healthy diet and avoiding hard, sugary, sticky and high tannin foods will help extend the life of dental fillings. Sugar reacts to certain bacteria in the mouth to form acid that causes new cavities below the filling or surrounding teeth. Hard foods like nuts, candies and bones can cause chipping or breakage. Tea, coffee and berries can cause discolouration.

Good oral hygiene is also very important for the longevity of dental fillings. Brushing with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day as well as flossing and gargling with anti-bacterial mouthwash daily will keep decay-causing bacteria away.

Make sure you also go for regular dental appointments for cleaning and check-ups, particularly if you have existing conditions such as gingivitis and periodontal disease or if you have a high risk of developing dental caries.

Consult expert dental professionals who care

Whether you’re after additional tips on how to make your fillings last longer or require a replacement, our team at Beacon Cove Dental has the extensive experience and expertise to provide advice, care and proper treatment. Contact us today to book an appointment.