Kitchener Dentist Files: "How long do dental fillings last?"

Dr. Kyle Hornby

As a Kitchener Dentist, I get a lot of questions about how long different restorative treatments will last. Let's face it, Dentistry is costly and people should be getting value for the money they spend. So how long should your dental fillings last and is the answer the same for every person?

Let's explore some critical information about the success and longevity of dental fillings.

Kitchener Dentist Files: Are all filling types the same?

In the last 10 years, there has been a marked movement away from the use of silver amalgam for fillings. Whether you believe in the safety of silver amalgam or not, there is a difference in longevity of these fillings versus white composite resin fillings. Silver amalgam fillings last significantly longer compared to tooth-coloured fillings. In addition, silver amalgam filling placement is less technique sensitive and does not require a completely dry environment for successful placement. In spite of this, most patients still choose white fillings because of the superior esthetics. I recommend that you ask your Kitchener Dentist for their recommendation as to the best filling material for your unique situation.

Kitchener Dentist Files: How long should each type of filling last?

Much research has been conducted on this topic. Generally, silver amalgam fillings are suggested to have an average lifespan of 20 years. In contrast, white fillings are generally given a 10 year lifespan. There are factors, however, that can contribute to longer and shorter lifespans, respectively.

Kitchener Dentist Files: How can you increase the longevity of your fillings?

The best ways to increase the longevity of any dental work, whether fillings, crowns or bridges is to keep them spotless! Brushing and flossing diligently on a daily basis is the best preventive medicine. But there are many other factors that can affect the lifespan of your dental fillings. They include:

  • Regular consumption of corrosive/acidic beverages. Soda pop is probably the most destructive thing that you can consume on a regular basis when it comes to your dental work. The double hit of high acidity and high carbohydrate load can spell "trouble" for your dental fillings. Specifically, a high acid and sugar load can fuel new cavities or "recurrent decay" around the edges of your dental fillings.
  • Uncontrolled grinding and clenching. If you don't wear a night guard to cushion heavy forces, grinding can cause breakdown and chipping of filling edges.
  • Dry mouth. If you experience dry mouth or "Xerostomia" due to systemic illness or consumption of particular medications, make sure to combat this with high fluid intake. Also, consider use of salivary substitutes like Biotene. If you have a dry mouth, larger quantities of food and plaque will deposit around the edges of your fillings.

Summary

Dental filling longevity varies with filling type and a variety of other factors. Generally, you can expect silver amalgam fillings to last about 20 years while white composite resin fillings do not last as long. Luckily, a failing filling can be patched or treated and often this does not require removal of an older filling in its entirety. The best care for increasing the longevity of any dental work is daily brushing and flossing!

Thanks for reading!

By Dr. Kyle Hornby, Kitchener Dentist

If you would like to arrange a no-charge Meet & Greet consult with me, give us a call at (519) 576-8160 or request a consult here.

Our Kitchener Dental Clinic is conveniently located in Downtown Kitchener and we are a short drive away for families in Kitchener, Waterloo, Breslau & Stratford.

This article is meant to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Accordingly, always seek the advice of your Kitchener Dentist or other healthcare provider regarding a dental condition or treatment.

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