If like many of us you have had the same dental fillings since childhood, you may be forgiven for thinking that they will last forever. Unfortunately, this is not the case and at some time, most of our fillings will need to be replaced.
How long a filling will last depends on a number of factors, including the material it’s made from, what we eat and drink and our dental care regime.
Different types of filling
There are a range of materials used for fillings. The most popular are;
- Amalgam; the traditional, silver or black coloured metal fillings
- Gold or silver; durable (lasting from 10-15 years) but gold in particular is expensive compared to other alternatives
- Porcelain; often used when the area to be filled is large or when matching to the tooth colour is important
- Composite; a ceramic and plastic compound that can be matched to the colour of your teeth
- Glass ionomer; a tooth coloured glass material that forms a chemical bond with the teeth. Often used for filling children’s teeth.
How to make fillings last longer
Physical actions such as grinding, or clenching will negatively affect your fillings and indeed your teeth themselves. If you are experiencing issues of this type, a chat with your dentist may help to identify the underlying cause.
Needless to say, chewing sticky toffees on a daily basis will not help keep your fillings in good condition! To maximise their lifespan, we recommend:
• Brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
• Avoiding biting down on hard foods
• Limiting your consumption of sugary foods and drinks
• Regular six-monthly check-ups with your dentist and an annual visit to your hygienist
What to do if your filling becomes damaged or falls out
General wear on fillings will be identified by your dentist during your regular check-up, but if a crack or chip develops or a filling falls out, it’s essential to seek treatment as soon as possible. Food particles can enter even the smallest gaps, potentially leading to a build-up of the bacteria that cause decay.
We’re here to help so please let us know if you have any questions about your fillings.