How Long Do Dental Fillings Last?

Dental fillings are one of the most common dental procedures performed, which is why knowing about them is important. Dental fillings are often recommended as treatment for tooth decay. These restorations help seal teeth off from harmful bacteria and restore their function. In this article we will discuss topics such as the types of dental filling material, how long do fillings last, and facts about temporary dental filling.

How Long Can You Expect Your Fillings to Last?

So, how long do fillings last? The longevity of a dental filling can depend largely on the type of filling material used and your oral hygiene practices. On average fillings last 20 years when made of gold, 15 years for ceramic and porcelain, 10-15 years for amalgam, 7 years for composite, and less than 5 years for glass ionomer.

As for temporary dental filling material, wondering how long does a temporary dental filling last? Temporary fillings are designed only to last approximately 6-8 weeks.

Types of Dental Fillings and Their Durability

Type of FillingMaterialAverage LifespanKey Points
Temporary Fillings
  • Zinc oxide eugenol.
  • Cavit.
  • Zinc phosphate cement.
  • Glass ionomers.
6-8 weeks
  • Meant to be used while waiting for permanent restoration to be placed.
  • Helps protect your teeth from damage during the restorative process.
Amalgam Fillings
  • Combination of silver, copper, mercury, and tin alloys.
10-15 years
  • The American Dental Association (ADA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and other organizations promote the safety of mercury based amalgam fillings.
  • Often regarded as one of the most durable types of dental fillings.
Composite Fillings
  • Combination of acrylic and ceramic resins.
7 years
  • Aesthetic dental filling option, as the shade can be matched to the color of your natural teeth.
Gold Fillings
  • Gold in combination with other metals, including palladium, nickel, or chromium.
20 years
  • Often one of the most expensive types of dental fillings.
  • May require more than one office visit to place.
Ceramic Fillings
  • Ceramic.
  • Porcelain.
15 years
  • More resistant to staining than composite fillings.
Glass Ionomer
  • Acrylic and a specific type of glass material.
5 years or less
  • Commonly used for cavities below the gum line.
  • Benefits of fluoride release that can help protect against tooth decay.
Dental Fillings

Material Matters: Choosing the Right Filling

The type of filling material used can impact longevity. Gold fillings are reported to last the longest, with an average lifespan of 20 years. This is followed by ceramic/porcelain (15 years), amalgam (10-15 years), composite (7 years), and glass ionomer (5 years or less).

How long does a temporary dental filling last? Temporary fillings are the shortest lasting fillings, which last on average between 6-8 weeks. They are meant to be replaced by a permanent filling in a short period of time.

Dental Filling Process

How long does a filling take? In most cases, the entire process takes less than an hour. The initial step begins with a comprehensive examination to determine your oral health condition. Your dentist will clinically evaluate your teeth and take dental X-rays. From the diagnostic records they will create a personalized treatment plan for you. Once it is determined that you need a dental filling, you will be scheduled for the appointment.

Prior to starting the dental filling, local anesthesia will be used to numb the area. Your dentist will then remove all decay and damaged tooth structure. Once the tooth is prepared, the dental filling material of choice will be placed. How long does it take to fill a cavity? Filling the dental cavity is relatively quick. If dental composite is being used it will be applied in layers and light cured to harden. After your filling is placed, your dentist will polish the final restoration and check your bite.

Preparing for a Filling: What to Expect

A filling procedure can be relatively simple and easy to prepare for. Prior to your procedure it is important to continue brushing and flossing daily. You can expect the filling procedure to last approximately 20 minutes to 1 hour. You will be given local anesthesia to make you comfortable throughout the procedure. If deemed necessary by your dental professional, they may place a temporary dental filler using a temporary dental filling kit. They will schedule your next appointment for the placement of the permanent restoration once it is ready.

Alternatives to Traditional Dental Fillings

There are some options to traditional dental fillings that your dentist may recommend depending on the extent of tooth damage. Silver diamine fluoride (SDF) is a liquid antibiotic that can be used on teeth to help stop decay. Another option is dental crowns or veneers, which are commonly made of metal, porcelain, or resin.

If the damage is too large to be replaced with a traditional filling, your dentist may recommend these restorations to support the tooth and restore its function and appearance. A root canal may also be necessary to save a tooth if the decay is extensive. Root canal treatment removes bacteria and infection from inside of the tooth’s root and seals it to prevent re-infection.

In addition, a newer composite filling is currently being developed by Oregon Health & Science University, which may be used by dental practices in the future. It contains the material thiourethane, which is found to be two times more resistant to fracture than traditional composite fillings.

When should I see a dentist?

Visiting your dentist regularly should be a main priority to maintain your oral health. It is traditionally recommended to visit your dentist for check-ups twice a year, but this frequency may vary depending on your dentist’s recommendations. You may also need to see your dentist sooner if you are experiencing gum disease, oral infection, oral sores, or teeth, gum, or jaw pain.

The team of dental experts at Gentle Dental are available to address any of your dental needs. Schedule an appointment with the dentists and specialists at Gentle Dental for a consultation to evaluate your smile.

Aftercare: Extending the Life of Your Filling

Maintaining the health of your dental fillings is a necessary part of maintaining overall oral health. Be sure you are brushing twice a day and flossing at least once daily. Continue to visit your dentist regularly for check-ups and complete all necessary treatment. If you notice any abnormal signs or symptoms, such as teeth sensitivity, rough edges on your teeth, bleeding gums, or tooth damage, contact your dentist as soon as possible.

Wondering how to remove temporary dental filling? If you have a temporary filling, it is only meant to last for a short period of time while you wait for the permanent filling. Your dentist will remove the temporary filling at the time of placement of the permanent filling.

Conclusion

Dental fillings help save teeth from decay and infection. Depending on the type of filling material used, fillings can last from 5-20 years or longer with good care. Regular dental check-ups are necessary for detecting cavities and ensuring your existing dental fillings are healthy. Contact your dentist today to schedule an appointment for personalized advice and treatment.