Nearly 90% of adults aged 20 to 64 have dental decay. Advanced decay can lead to numerous health complications, including dental abscesses and tooth loss. Treating decay early is crucial to protect your oral health and prevent more invasive procedures later on.
A dental filling is a restoration used to fill a cavity and restore the function and appearance of a tooth damaged by decay. While fillings are highly effective, they are not permanent and may need to be replaced periodically.
Learn about the factors that affect the lifespan of your dental fillings and signs that you may need a replacement filling.
Factors That Affect Dental Filling Longevity
Enamel is the hardest tissue in the body, but it can be damaged due to various adverse factors, such as consuming excessive amounts of acidic foods and drinks, grinding or clenching the teeth, poor oral hygiene practices, and consuming a high-sugar diet.
Dental fillings are meant to provide lasting relief from cavities, but their longevity depends on a variety of factors, including:
Different types of dental filling materials have varying levels of strength and durability. Common filling materials include amalgam and composite.
While amalgam (silver) fillings are durable, typically lasting over 20 years, they are also highly visible and not aesthetically pleasing. You also risk mild mercury exposure with amalgam fillings; however, the FDA suggests that amalgam fillings are safe unless you are in a high-risk group, such as pregnant women, children, and people with a pre-existing neurological disease.
Tooth-colored composite fillings offer the perfect balance of durability and aesthetics. They can last up to 10 years and provide a natural-looking smile.
Larger fillings are more likely to fail because they expose large surface areas to bacterial growth. They also put more stress on the tooth due to its size and mass, increasing the chances of fracturing or cracking.
Smaller fillings offer better protection without compromising the tooth’s structural integrity since they require less tooth preparation and filling material.
The pressure you put on the filling depends on the location of the filling and affects its longevity. Dental fillings in the front teeth (incisors and canines) tend to last longer than those in the back teeth. This is likely because molars are used for chewing more frequently, which causes greater wear and tear on the back teeth.
Maintaining a healthy oral hygiene routine is critical to prolonging the life of your filling. A 2011 study revealed a significantly greater risk of treatment failure when patients had poor oral hygiene or caries that had not been completely removed.
Brush twice daily with fluoride toothpaste to remove plaque and remineralize tooth enamel. Floss or use a Waterpik or interdental brush to access hard-to-reach areas between teeth. Use an antibacterial mouthwash once daily to eliminate harmful bacteria that can cause decay.
Signs You Need to Replace Your Filling
When the filling material begins to break down, it creates a place for bacteria to grow, which can lead to tooth decay and other oral health problems. Other signs that indicate it’s time to replace your fillings include:
- You can feel the filling become loose
- You notice the filling turning yellow or brown
- The filling is cracked or chipped
- You feel pain when biting down or eating something sweet
- You have sensitivity to hot or cold
Restore Your Oral Health with Aurora Dental Group
Aurora Dental Group is the perfect choice if you’re looking for a dental practice that can provide you with the latest in dental technology and care. We offer a wide range of services, from cosmetic dentistry to preventative care. We also use the latest materials and techniques to ensure that your treatment is as effective and comfortable as possible.