Dental fillings are typically used to help restore decaying teeth, treat cavities, and help reestablish a tooth’s structural and functional integrity. Though most fillings can be kept for years without any issues, no dental filling is completely permanent. Typically factors such as the size of the filling, the number of fillings, the extent of tooth decay/damage, and the material used in fillings are all factors that influence how long a dental filling will last.
On top of this, dental fillings can be affected one of two ways: the appearance and their function. Typically the appearance of a dental filling will have signs of degradation first before signs of weakening of the filling. However, fillings made of better, sturdier materials will typically last for a much longer time; and if you’re unsure of the type of filling you should get, your dentist can definitely recommend a one that will both look great and last for a long time.
Do Fillings Need to be Replaced?
The short answer is: yes, dental fillings absolutely need to be replaced. This is because though dental fillings act as a solution geared towards fixing cavities, dental fillings do eventually wear out from stress caused by normal, everyday biting and chewing.
Though it can take years before a filling needs to be replaced, improper oral hygiene may require earlier replacement. That’s why regular brushing, flossing, and dental checkups are necessary to prolong the life of your dental fillings.
How Long Does a Dental Filling Last?
Depending on the type of filling and how well you take care of your teeth, dental fillings can last for many, many years. For example, metal fillings can last up to a decade because of just how strong the material is. However, more natural colored fillings and composites can last up to 6 years which is still a fantastic length of time.
More temporary fillings, like those used after an emergency dental procedure, however, only last for about a month and will ultimately require a more permanent filling down the line.
The size of the filling itself also has a huge impact on the longevity of each specific filling. Typically smaller fillings last for a greater amount of time than larger ones. This is because teeth that require larger fillings are already damaged to a greater extent, therefore requiring more frequent checkups and more frequent fillings as a result to maintain their integrity.
Lastly, one of the most important factors that influences how long dental fillings will last is just how well you take care of your teeth after the fillings have been placed. This means avoiding highly acidic foods and beverages like soda and juices that could wear away enamel, increasing the chances that more fillings will be needed. This also means being diligent when it comes to brushing your teeth twice a daily, flossing regularly, and going to scheduled dental appointments for regular cleaning.