28 Sep How Long Do White Fillings Last?
Dental fillings have improved over the past years, and are lasting longer. However, they do have a limited lifespan and need replacing after several years. It’s important to know how long silver or white fillings last and how to identify the indicators that a filling needs replacing.
Fillings are a common form of dental restoration, with various materials used to fill gaps where cavities were removed. Traditionally, fillings were made of gold or silver amalgam, but in more recent times, white fillings, which closely match tooth colour, have come into common use.
Fillings are categorized by their material composition. Metal fillings use gold or silver amalgam; the metal makes them long-lasting. They are less cosmetically appealing, especially with silver which looks dark and can discolour teeth to a grey. The other types of fillings are white fillings, which include composite, porcelain, and glass ionomer.
What Are White Fillings?
There are a few types of white fillings. They are made of either porcelain, a composite material, or glass ionomer. Composite white fillings are moulded into the cavity hole in the tooth and allowed to harden; they are then shaped and smoothed to fit the tooth. Porcelain fillings are created from a mould of your tooth and glued onto the tooth. Ionomers are bonded right onto the tooth.
White dental fillings match the natural, slightly off-white colour of teeth. Porcelain ones can be colour-matched for a more perfect look, but with all white fillings, restorations are nearly invisible. They are also less likely to trigger pain when touching cold food or drink since they aren’t conductive like metal fillings. An added benefit white fillings have over metal is that they are mercury-free.
What Impacts Lifespan?
Regardless of the type of filling you have, certain factors will affect how long it lasts. Grinding teeth puts stress on fillings, which is why they last longer on front teeth compared to molars. Any kind of oral trauma can also obviously impact longevity. Avoiding using your teeth as a tool to open packages or containers or eating hard foods is recommended.
Maintaining good oral health, including brushing with a soft toothbrush and flossing regularly to prevent plaque, as well as going to the dentist regularly for ongoing dental care will help.
What are the Lifespans of Different Dental Fillings?
Silver fillings are incredibly strong and highly resistant to wear and tear, so are ideal for molars which are used heavily, but where fillings don’t show very much. Silver fillings generally last about 10 to 15 years. Despite their lifespan, some older ones contain mercury; consult your dentist about recommended options.
White Composite Fillings
Composites are prepared from plastic resin for a flexible filling that will fill cavities exactly and match surrounding teeth well. Because it is mouldable, these fillings are easier to push into smaller cavities, so no drilling is required, and more of the natural tooth is kept. The technician carefully matches the colour and texture for an invisible finish, which is excellent for those front teeth that everyone sees.
White composite fillings are newer and haven’t been used as long as amalgam fillings, so there’s less information and data on how long they last. Older versions of white composite fillings generally last about 7 to 10 years, but there have been many more recent improvements made; newer white composite fillings seem to be more long-lasting and have been known to last about 12 to 15 years, depending on the level of dental hygiene and care.
A ceramic or porcelain filling is a dental filling made with medical-grade porcelain. They are made in a lab to the exact dimensions of the damaged tooth, which is then glued onto the tooth with a special adhesive. They are customized to match the colour and texture of the natural teeth and are almost invisible.
They usually last at least 10 to 20 years with proper care and have been known to last a full lifetime, with good dental care and avoiding trauma and extra stress on the fillings.
Glass Ionomer Fillings
Glass ionomers are made from acrylic and glass. This filling is relatively weak so is mainly only used for small cavities close to the gum line where there is less chewing and unnecessary stress on the filling material. However, they are easy to apply, so are good for covering smaller cavities. Because they are weaker, they only last about 5 to 7 years.
When Do Fillings Need Replacing?
If you have silver fillings and notice grey spreading along the tooth around the filling, there may be metal leaking into your tooth. Pain or soreness, or a feeling of softness when biting, are signs it may need replacing.
Sensitivity, pain, and general toothache are common signs of white composite fillings starting to fail. If temperature or pressure causes sensitivity around the filling or you have a sense of pressure when biting down, you should consult your dentist. Otherwise, the filling can start to cause inflammation and constant pain. Cracks and spots are visible signs of a failing composite filling.
If you suspect you have a cavity or have an existing filling that may need replacing, Gateshead Dental uses the dental technology in white fillings. We will fix your cavity for your dental health while matching teeth colour to be as aesthetically pleasing as possible.
Trust us to help you maintain excellent dental hygiene, for healthy teeth and gums, and longer-lasting fillings.