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Alabama Family Dentistry | The Lifespan of a Dental Filling

The Lifespan of a Dental Filling

The Lifespan of a Dental Filling

Posted by Alabama Family Dentistry in General Dentistry, Tooth Restoration 22 Apr 2016

When we share the news with a patient that they have dental decay that requires a filling, we typically get a lot of questions. “Will it hurt?”; “How long will it take?”; “Do I need shots?”; “What should I expect when getting a filling?” And they’re all relevant questions. But there’s one that so few people actually ask, and that is “How long will the filling last – forever?” Perhaps most people assume that once a tooth is has been restored with a filling, the result will last for the rest of their life, or at least, a very long time. So all of the dentists at all 4 of dental office locations in the central Alabama area thought we’d provide this key information.

What are Dental Fillings?

Dental fillings are a great dental restoration technique to keep your natural teeth healthy by encasing, filling in, and protecting any decay that may have occurred in a tooth. We offer a few types of fillings that are made out of different materials which may be appropriate under specific circumstances. The type of material used is typically the determining factor as to how long the life of your dental filling might be. Unfortunately, the life of a filling is not infinite, no matter what the materials.

White Fillings

More commonly becoming the preferred treatment for cavities, white fillings, also known as tooth-colored or composite resin restoration, are a great way to make your cavity restorations essentially undetectable. Your Alabama Family Dentist will closely match the filling material to neighboring teeth, making it look like a healthy, natural tooth. There is a trade-off for aesthetic superiority, however. The expected lifespan of a composite resin filling is about 7-10 years, depending on the location of the filling and your oral health habits. However, it’s one of the most viable, trusted options for treating cavities and the most popular choice at our practice.

Silver Fillings

Silver or amalgam fillings are another option for treating a cavity. They do last longer than a composite resin filling, usually about 10-15 years, but the gunmetal silver color is generally considered unattractive, particularly in teeth that are visible when smiling or speaking. In addition to these restorations causing teeth to look gray, dingy, and discolored, they also usually require more of the undamaged tooth to be removed for application. And some safety questions have been raised in the dental community in recent years. In certain cases this option is viable but in general has been replaced at our practice with the more natural tooth colored material.

Why Do Fillings Need Eventual Replacement?

Time is not dental work’s friend, because of the usual stress we place on our teeth and dental work. Dental restoration material wears down over time, making the restoration less effective as it ages.

Often secondary tooth decay materializes around the dental filling or on the surface area surrounding the filling, making more dental work required. If additional restoration is completed the lifespan of the original filling decreases. In certain circumstances, we may recommend that a crown or onlay on that tooth that would maximize the lifespan of that restoration.

Quite often dental filling restoration doesn’t last as long is associated with tooth injuries, eating mishaps and consistent dental problems such as teeth grinding. This type of impact can contribute to the wear or damage on a dental filling, necessitating the eventual replacement.

If you think you may have a cavity, don’t wait to get it checked out by our dentists at any of our 4 convenient central Alabama locations.



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