Fillings are used very commonly in dentistry to combat decay and strengthen teeth with cavities. Although fillings can last for several years, they’re not a permanent solution. If you’ve had your fillings for a long time, it may be time to think about replacing them.
The benefits of fillings
Fillings are restorations, which are placed inside cavities, or small holes in the tooth. The aim is to make the tooth stronger, but also to protect the tooth. Placing a filling and cleaning the cavity can help to prevent harmful bacteria reaching other parts of the tooth. If you have a cavity, and you don’t have a filling, there’s a risk of the hole getting larger, and the tooth could also become infected.
How long do fillings last?
The lifespan of a filling will depend on the material used. Today, most people have fillings that are made from dental composite, a tooth-coloured material. In the past, mercury amalgam fillings were much more common. Composite fillings should last around 5 years, while amalgam fillings last up to 15 years. Although amalgam fillings are more durable than composite fillings, there are several advantages of white fillings. Most importantly for patients keen to preserve the look of their smile, white fillings are incredibly discreet, and they blend in with the natural tooth shade. Composite fillings are also safer and more environmentally-friendly than mercury amalgam fillings.
The advantages of replacing fillings
If you’ve had fillings for a long time, you may need to replace them. Fillings can become worn over the course of time, and this can impact oral health. If the filling doesn’t fit the cavity anymore, there’s a chance that bacteria will be able to penetrate the tooth. A worn filling could also cause the tooth to become weaker. When you go to the dentist for routine check-ups, they will take a look at any fillings or crowns you have, and check for signs of wear or tear. If your dentist thinks you might benefit from a new filling, they will discuss this with you.