If all of a sudden you noticed an unsightly hole in a tooth where there used to be a filling, you may wonder, “How long does a filling last?” This is a very good question and surprisingly, it does not come up often, but it should. Our guess is that a lot of people probably assume that once they have a cavity filled, the filling will last forever, at least for decades.
We would like to be able to say that all fillings last a specific amount of time, but we cannot say that. Why? Because, dental work does have a shelf life and how long a filling lasts depends on several factors, such as how well you take care of your teeth, the type of procedure, the materials used, the skill of the dentist, and your dental hygiene habits.
Dental Fillings Don’t Last Forever
Dental fillings, otherwise referred to as “restorations” provide many benefits; they restore the natural function of a tooth, they improve the appearance of a decayed tooth, and they address cavities; however, they do not last forever. For example, suppose “Bill” had a small filling using composite resin filling. As long as Bill took excellent care of his teeth, his filling should last from 7 to 10 years.
When it comes to all dental work, time is the real enemy. This is understandable considering the stress placed on teeth during chewing several times a day. However, teeth grinding and injuries can also compromise the integrity of a tooth restoration. Like most materials used in different industries, dental materials will eventually wear down and need to be replaced.
If a dental filling wears away, it eventually becomes less effective and secondary tooth decay can develop around the filling, requiring more restoration on the affected tooth. Over time, it may be necessary to place a cap or a crown on the tooth in order to prevent decay and maximize the efficacy of the restoration.