Fillings eventually have to be replaced, but with good care, you can make them last a bit longer. This is good news considering that, if you’re like most people, you’re not exactly enthused about the process. While getting a filling is a lot easier and faster now, the longer you can make your existing fillings last, the better. Here’s a look at what you can do to preserve the work you have, and what to look for to see if it’s really time to get the filling replaced.
Filling life spans vary by material, but in general, most non-temporary filling types should last at least five years with good care. Composite resin lasts at least five years and can go a lot longer; amalgam (also called silver) lasts at least 10, often 15 years; and gold fillings, which are still used but not as common, can last at least 10 years or more and are less prone to corrosion and cracking. Some materials that are less common include glass ionomer, which doesn’t really last that long, but it’s often used in children’s fillings, so filling life span isn’t as crucial (especially if the tooth is a baby tooth that will fall out anyway).
Taking Care of Them for Best Results
Giving your fillings a longer life requires four actions: basic tooth care, care while chewing, protecting your teeth during sports, and addressing stress and other causes of tooth grinding and jaw clenching.
Basic tooth care helps fillings just as much as it helps your non-filled teeth. By removing bits of food, the risk of decay right at the edge of the filling (and also elsewhere on the same tooth) is reduced. That helps keep the filling in place. Taking care not to chew anything very hard, like ice, or sticky, like caramel, helps stop the filling from cracking or loosening.
If you play any rough sports that put you at risk of being hit in the mouth, or having your jaw take an impact, wear a mouth guard. If your teeth bang into each other, you could crack the filling or make the filling actually fall out. The same goes for grinding and clenching; that friction can adversely affect the filling.
Replacing the Filling
Eventually each filling will need to be replaced no matter what. The material just gets too old, and you miss out on newer technologies that could give you one that lasts even longer. It’s vital that you get your yearly exams and twice-yearly cleanings so that the dentist can track your filling and tooth health.
If you want to continue having fillings that match your tooth color, go with composite resin again. Silver and gold ones are very obvious to anyone looking at your mouth. However, if you want more durability, one of those metals will be better. Contact Napa Dental for an appointment if you want to get your fillings checked out.