In dentistry, we tend to tell our patients that we don’t have a crystal ball. Unfortunately, we don’t have the ability to tell a patient when their tooth or fillings will break, begin to hurt or decay. What we can tell a patient is what we currently see in their mouth and how we can treat it.
Fillings are common practice in dentistry, and are needed when a tooth has a cavity, fractures or is being used esthetically to fill spaces. We are asked daily how long a filling should last. There are many dimensions to this question, so let me drill you with the facts (no pun intended)!
How Long do Fillings Last?
There is no guaranteed time for any dental filling, however, the hope of a filling is that it lasts many years. Fillings needed, due to decay between the teeth or at the gumline, are subject to recurrent decay in those same areas if dietary or oral hygiene habits aren’t corrected after the filling is placed. If recurrent decay happens, the filling is subject to falling out (especially if it is at the gumline). If this occurs, a new filling will need to be placed.
What are Fillings Made Of?
Today, there are a few different materials used for fillings. Amalgam (the silver fillings) is still a durable material used in areas where esthetically, they won’t be seen. It works well when placed in moist environments. This means that people who have a hard time staying open wide, or tend to have a lot of saliva, would be good candidates for these. Amalgam holds up well with temperature changes.
Composite filling has been around for a long time in dentistry, and is used often. This material is very strong and durable, and looks natural. It can hold up to the strong forces our teeth endure. Composite works very well for dental bonding (filling spaces in anterior teeth).
Esthetic bonding that is done to close spaces in anterior teeth is a great option for a quick fix without using orthodontics. With these fillings, many are cautioned that they will need maintenance due to collecting stains, or normal wear and tear. Patients often chip lower or upper front teeth and would like a filling placed. This is a great option. However, if the break occurred due to your bite and the way your teeth come together, the filling may not last as long as you’d like. It still may be best to try the filling, so that more tooth structure doesn’t break away. It may also prevent any sensitivity if the fracture is into the next layer of tooth.
Discuss Options with your Dentist
When the need arises for a filling to be placed, your dentist will discuss the options with you. They can also discuss what filling material is ideal for your situation. They will show you where the filling is, and encourage the right home care and dietary needs to slow down the rate of decay.
Fillings are a safe dental practice that are necessary for your dental health when warranted. Do not hesitate to inquire more about dental materials or ask about the probable longevity. Our Rochester family dentists are more than happy to answer any questions you may have! Request an appointment online or call us at 507-288-1188.
Family Dentist Tree is a family-oriented dental office located in Rochester, MN. Whether you need a cleaning, filling, crown, root canal, treatment for gum disease, or teeth whitening, we are here to help you with all your dental needs. We serve all ages, and our offerings include family dental care and senior plans. Request an appointment online or call us at 507-288-1188.