How Long Do Cavity Fillings Last?​​

How Long Do Cavity Fillings Last?​​
Author: Espire Dental Posted: July 4th, 2023 Category:

Are you getting a cavity filled? Learn how long you can expect your filling to last. 

Do you have cavities? If so, you’re not alone! Cavities are so common that it’s estimated one in four adults between 20 and 64 have had at least one cavity during their lifetime. 

Getting a cavity filled is a relatively simple dental procedure to repair a tooth damaged by decay.  When bacteria in your mouth combine with the sugars in sweets and starches in the foods and drinks you consume, an acid forms, eventually creating a pit in the tooth. The result is extreme pain and sensitivity and possibly an infection. A filling plugs that hole and makes your tooth whole again. If you get a filling, you probably don’t have to worry about a replacement for quite some time. However, how long the filling lasts depends on the type of filling material used.

Common types of cavity fillings

Modern dentistry offers several filling options. Each type has unique advantages and disadvantages, primarily related to durability and cost. Here’s a brief breakdown of each:

Metal amalgam. Strong and durable, amalgam fillings are ideal for molars in the back of the mouth used for chewing. While less expensive than other types, amalgams are more noticeable. They also contain several metallic materials, including silver, copper, tin, and zinc combined with mercury. The presence of mercury has given rise to concerns about potential mercury toxicity. However, studies have shown no adverse effects from amalgam fillings.

Gold. Although gold fillings can last for decades, this type will be quite noticeable in your mouth. Most people will pocket the higher cost of gold due to their durability. However, gold fillings are rarely used today.

Composite. Composite or filled resin fillings are made of glass or quartz and can be closely matched to your natural tooth color. Compared to metal-type fillings, composites are less durable.

Porcelain. More expensive than gold fillings, porcelain (ceramic) fillings are extremely stain resistant and durable. To get a porcelain filling or inlay, your dentist takes an impression of the tooth after drilling the cavity. The porcelain filling is then placed into the tooth.

While all fillings are strong and long-lasting, they can break if you bite down on a hard object or suffer a blow to the mouth. In addition, if the filling happens to separate from the tooth, it can create a space where bacteria and infection can grow. In those cases, you’ll need a replacement filling. See your dentist immediately if you notice any breakage or signs of an infection.

Preventing cavities

Filling a cavity at the first signs of decay will prevent further damage to the tooth. If not treated early with a filling, the decay can extend into the pulp, resulting in an infection. At that point, you may need a root canal or an extraction. But you can avoid those complications by practicing good dental hygiene.

Clean your teeth every day. The only way to remove excess bacteria on your teeth is to brush and floss daily. Use fluoride toothpaste, and pay special attention to the back-of-mouth molars where decay develops most often. 

Skip the sweets. Sweets are the main culprit in decay. Sticky sweets and beverages tend to stick to teeth longer, promoting decay-causing acid growth. If you must indulge in sweets, be sure to brush soon afterward.

Consider fluoride treatments. If you’re at higher risk of tooth decay or don’t get enough fluoride in your drinking water, your dentist may recommend prescription fluoride treatments.

See your dentist regularly. Your dentist can spot decay at the earliest stage and start treatment. Even if it means a filling, you’ll save your tooth in the long run.

Don’t delay getting a cavity filled

Schedule an appointment at Espire’s Mission Valley, CA, location today! Our highly trained dentists are experts in filling cavities and can efficiently treat yours too! Don’t live near our Mission Valley, CA, office? Find one of our other locations near you.

Mission Valley, CA
8989 Rio San Diego Drive
Suite 170
San Diego, CA 92108