When a patient receives a filling to repair a tooth, they often want to know the expected longevity of the filling. How long a filling lasts depends on many factors including the size of the filling, oral hygiene, and the filling material.
Small filling longevity
A small filling typically lasts from 20-40 years without issue, but if the area of decay gets larger and requires more work, it may not last as long. To maximize the lifespan of an existing filling, some dentists recommend placing a dental crown eventually to protect and preserve the remaining tooth.
Large filling longevity
When decay spreads to a large amount of the tooth structure, the patient requires a larger filling. The bigger the filling, the more likely it is that the dentist will need to place a crown in the future. The dentist may opt to place a crown instead of a filling to repair larger areas of decay and protect the natural tooth.
Effect of filling material
The material the dentist uses for a filling makes a difference in the longevity of a dental filling. Amalgam/silver fillings used to be the most common filling, but today’s dentists are choosing natural-looking composite filling material instead. Amalgam fillings are more susceptible to thermal changes, which can lead to cracks in the teeth that require a crown or sometimes root canal therapy.
Different filling materials require specific application procedures, and if the dentist doesn’t follow them correctly, the filling may not last as long as it should. Tooth-colored fillings are more technique sensitive and require great attention to detail during placement to ensure a long lifespan of the restoration.
Patients who grind or clench their teeth place greater force on their teeth and this can decrease the life of a filling and damage teeth. A dentist can tell when a patient has a teeth grinding issue and recommend solutions such as a night guard to prevent damage and extend the longevity of all dental work.
Role of oral hygiene
How well a patient cares for their mouth plays a large role in the longevity of a filling. Performing a cosmetically pleasing and functional restoration of a decayed tooth helps protect that tooth, but if the patient doesn’t practice good oral hygiene, decay can start in another area and eventually affect the filling. Improper oral hygiene can also lead to decay in other teeth that require fillings, so it’s advisable for patients to take good care of their teeth and gums always.
If you’re in need of a filling or other tooth restoration, contact Chianese Dental to set up an exam and consultation. We want to make sure your smile remains beautiful and healthy.