Getting a filling is a great solution for many patients who experience discomfort due to a cavity or small chip in their tooth. How long you can expect your filling to last depends on several factors. In most cases, though, a filling kept in good condition will last 10–15 years before needing replacement.
Taking proper care of the affected tooth, & your oral health in general, will ensure that the lifespan of your filling is maximized. This means brushing & flossing the filled tooth the same as you would with fully natural teeth. Ensuring food particles are brushed away prevents further decay that could create other problems that will make the filling less effective at sealing the sensitive areas of the tooth. It’s also important to note any changes that occur with your filling & tooth, such as increased coloration or the return of discomfort. When these changes happen, it’s best to see your dentist right away so they can address the issue before it gets worse.
In addition, those looking to get the absolute most out of their filling—& the rest of your teeth—can maintain a healthy diet low in processed foods, sugar & acidic foods.
Fillings come in a wide variety of materials. From tooth-colored ceramic to amalgam silver, fillings range in durability. Typically, the longest-lasting fillings are amalgam & ceramics, which average about 15 years before needing replacement. Composite & glass ionomer cement are less effective in the long term, ranging on average from 5–7 years.
The amount of the filling can affect the lifespan as well, as fillings that cover more than one surface have a greater surface area that can become damaged or loose.
Filling types are chosen for reasons beyond longevity, so it’s best to consult with your dentist to see what option is best for your case.
Problems Beyond the Cavity
Other issues you have with your bite & oral health can lower a filling’s lifespan as well. Bruxism, or teeth grinding, is one of the more prominent issues. Just like with real teeth, grinding against any type of filling will slowly lead to wear that will make it ineffective. Jaw clenching is another factor that can not only wear on a filling, it can cause a filling to break loose.
If you know that either of these conditions are a problem for you, it may be best to get a nightguard to prevent a possible dental emergency or a brief filling lifespan.
For many people, fillings will need to be replaced at some point, but with the right care & a consultation with your dentist before or during treatment, you can get every possible day out of a filling.