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The average adult will require at least one dental filling at some point, even if they have excellent oral health and still see their dentist every six months.  A dental filling is what fills a cavity or small hole in the tooth.  Once a cavity is formed, the decay of the tooth must be cleaned, and then filled with a material to save the structure of the tooth.  There are different types of materials that are used for dental fillings.  Each material has its’ pros and cons, but they each are expected to last a certain amount of time.  Read further as we discuss different types of dental fillings and how long they are expected to last.  


The Different Types of Dental Fillings


As mentioned above, when a patient has a cavity, your dentist will try to save the structure of the tooth with a dental filling.  Before that though, the dentist will remove any decay from the tooth.  Then, the tooth will be filled with a material.  There are different kinds of materials used for dental fillings.  Take a look at our list below, dental fillings can be made out of the following…


-Amalgam (this is the common “silver” filling)



-Composite Resin (this is the tooth colored filling)



Now that you are aware of the different types of materials, we can discuss the shelf life of these materials or how long they are expected to last. 


Gold, Glass or Porcelain Dental Fillings Last the Longest


Porcelain dental fillings are not used that often, which is too bad, because they are very durable.  They can last up to 15 years with proper care.  However, porcelain dental fillings are very expensive, which is why they are used less. 


Glass fillings are made with a combination of acrylic and glass.  This is the type of filling that dentists use for below the gumline, because these fillings were designed to release fluoride over time.  Glass fillings should not be used on top surfaces of teeth, because they are not strong enough to withstand chewing or grinding.  These fillings can also last up to 15 years with proper care, and they are not as expensive as porcelain or gold.  


Gold fillings are very strong and hold up well.  In fact, the gold fillings are known for being quite strong and durable.  Gold does stand out in the mouth though, some people do not mind the aesthetics and some do.  The biggest downside to gold dental fillings is the cost.  And, having gold dental fillings put in may take a longer time to do properly, which means more time in the dentist chair.  The biggest advantage of a gold dental filling is the durability, a gold filling can last 20 years with proper care.  

Amalgam or Silver Fillings 


Amalgam or silver dental fillings are the most common tooth fillings used, and the second most durable material.  Silver fillings can last for 10 years with proper dental care, and they are very affordable.  Dentists have been using amalgam fillings for many years now, especially on the back teeth where they are not noticeable.  Like the gold dental fillings, silver fillings stand out in the mouth.  And, some patients with silver fillings have experienced sensitivity to cold and hot due to amalgam fillings.  They can also discolor the surrounding tooth or cause cracks and fractures.  But, silver fillings are the best options for kids in back molars.  They stay put and last a long time.  And they are the most affordable on this list.  


Composite Fillings


The dental fillings that have the shortest shelf life are composite or tooth colored fillings.  They can last up to ten years with good dental hygiene.  But the appeal with composite dental fillings is that they match the color of the tooth.  So, an advantage of having composite fillings is that they chemically bond to the remaining tooth structure, which gives the tooth way more support.  And, dentists can use the same material to fill in chips and cracks in the teeth.  


Will Your Dental filling Have to be Replaced?


A dental filling can last anywhere from 10 to 20 years with proper care.  That means regular dentist check ups and brushing and flossing the teeth twice daily.  This will increase the longevity of the fillings.  At some point, you may have to replace a filling, but with these tips you can try to get the most wear out of your fillings.  

For more information, contact a professional dentist at Parkview Dentistry.

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