Tooth decay is the most common oral health condition, despite being preventable. 92% of adults have had a cavity, which is most often treated with a dental filling. It’s a convenient and effective solution to treat decay while restoring the function of the tooth. Unfortunately, fillings don’t last forever, but many things will affect the lifespan of your filling. Here’s when you can expect to need a replacement.
Average Life Expectancy for Dental Fillings
Every mouth and situation differs. Generally, a filling will last for 10 years before needing a new one, depending on the type, like:
- Amalgam: 15 years
- Composite: 7 years
- Ceramic: 15 years
- Glass Ionomer: 5 years
Factors Affecting the Lifespan of Fillings
Besides the materials, many other factors affect the lifespan of your restoration, including:
- Location: The back teeth experience more wear and tear naturally. Fillings placed on molars may need to be replaced sooner than those in the front.
- Size: Larger fillings may not last as long as smaller restorations.
- Diet: Limiting sugary foods and drinks will lessen the risk of new decay. It’s best to moderate hard or sticky foods to prevent damaging your filling.
- Oral Hygiene: Brush at least twice daily and floss nightly. Good oral hygiene will promote the lifespan of your filling and create a cavity-free smile.
- Lifestyle Habits: It’s best to break any bad habits, like chewing on your fingernails or chomping on ice. Don’t use your teeth in place of scissors or other tools.
- Bruxism: Grinding and clenching can damage your filling and natural teeth. A nightguard from your dentist will create a cushion between the upper and lower teeth to absorb the friction.
- Dental Care: Visit your dentist every 6 months for a cleaning and checkup. They’ll check your filling at each routine appointment to ensure there aren’t any concerns.
Signs You Need a Replacement
Your filling can thrive for a decade or more with the right care, but it won’t last forever. It will need to be replaced, eventually. Don’t wait to contact your dentist if you develop any symptoms of needing a replacement, including:
- Tooth sensitivity
- Visible damage
- Filling falls out
- Filling is discolored
- Pain when placing pressure on the tooth
Your dentist will provide the replacement you need to preserve your tooth. If you wait too long to get a new filling, decay, infections, and other complications occur. Don’t let a small issue turn into a big problem.
About Dr. Dennis E. Stansbury
Dr. Stansbury earned his dental degree at Baylor College of Dentistry and has regularly pursued continuing education in advanced services, like oral conscious sedation and cosmetic dentistry. He is a proud member of many professional organizations, including the American Dental Association. Request an appointment through our website or call (903) 508-4207.