Dental restorations such as fillings are subject to wear and tear and will usually need to be replaced at some point. There are many individual factors that can play a role in how long a filling lasts, including the material used and your oral hygiene routine. Let’s look at some of the expected lifespans of various fillings and what factors might affect their lifespan:
Amalgam fillings: Amalgam fillings are the silver ones. The estimated longevity of an amalgam filling is around 12 years.
Composite filings: Composite fillings are white fillings. On average, composite fillings last 5-7 years before they need to be replaced.
These averages are not guarantees, some fillings last less than one year while some may last more than 20 years! The above lifespans come from a review of multiple studies. A research team that compiled data from multiple studies that had been done prior to 2002 found that 80% of amalgam filling were still functioning properly at the 10 year mark, while only around 60% of composite fillings lasted even 8 years. Common reasons for a filling to fail include the breakage of the filling itself, tooth decay developing under the filling, or the filled tooth weakening and breaking around the filling.
You can help your fillings last by maintaining a great oral hygiene routine of daily brushing and flossing, regular dental cleanings and check-ups, and wearing a night guard to protect them from the effects of nocturnal clenching and grinding (some people may benefit from wearing a bite guard during the day time as well). Grinding your teeth causes them to crack and break, fillings included! Avoiding things that contribute to decay, such as frequent snacking on sugar and carbs, or sipping on sodas and other acidic beverages throughout the day, can also help restorations last.
Remember, your oral health depends on your oral hygiene, so take an active role in maintaining your teeth and the restorations they have. At Mall of Georgia Dentistry, we aren’t just here to fix teeth that have problems, but to help you learn how to prevent problems too! Brush for two minutes two times a day using a 45-degree angle at the gum line and all around each surface of each tooth, and floss daily with a c-shape gently up and down each inner tooth surface.