As a category, dental fillings tend to last around ten years before they have to be replaced. However, this lifespan can vary by a few years depending on the material used in the filling. You can generally maximize the lifespan of a filling by maintaining regular dental hygiene and avoiding extremely hard or sticky food. Still, dental fillings are simply not designed to last a lifetime. But can dental fillings decay?
Can Dental Fillings Decay?
In order to save you discomfort and potential complications, we’ve put together this quick guide to help you gauge when your dental filling might need to be replaced by your Valley Alder dentist in Bloomington.
Dental Filling Lifespans by Material
There are four primary materials dental fillings are made from. And each last for a certain number of years as long as you take good care of your teeth. Let’s look at the breakdown.
- Silver Amalgam Fillings: Silver amalgam fillings typically last 10-15 years.
- Cast Gold Fillings: Gold fillings don’t corrode, so they often last 10-15 years with many lasting even longer.
- Composite Fillings: Your average composite filling only lasts around 5-10 years with ten being pretty rare.
- Porcelain Fillings: Usually lasts at least fifteen years.
Of course, each material has its advantages and disadvantages, so you’ll want to discuss your decision in detail before receiving your dental fillings in Bloomington. Once you have made your decision, you’ll have a pretty good idea of when your filling will need to be replaced.
Signs that Your Dental Filling May Be Failing
The Tooth Feels “Different”
Our tongues are very sensitive. So it is possible to tell when the surface or contour of a particular tooth feels a bit different. You may sense that it is slightly rougher or sharper in the area around a filling. This then may be cause for concern.
You will likely have some sensitivity to hot and cold liquids when you first get your filling. However, if this feeling ever comes back it could be a sign that the filling has pulled away from the tooth leaving the more sensitive dentin exposed.
Pain While Chewing
You should never experience pain while chewing unless it’s an established side effect of a recent treatment. Pain while chewing could indicate tooth decay, an infection, or a failing filling. Whatever the cause, you will want to make an appointment with your dentist before it gets worse.
Discoloration Near the Filling
One of the disadvantages of silver amalgam fillings is their tendency to cause discoloration in the surrounding tooth structure. However, discoloration around a filling is also a sign that it might be failing. So you should keep an eye on any fillings you have, especially as they age.
A Visible Gap
Your dentist can definitively determine whether or not your filling needs replacing. They will usually start with a physical exam. A visible gap may present in some cases.
Risks Associated with Aging Dental Fillings
You may not look forward to having your fillings replaced. But it’s always best to have it taken care of before the situation escalates. A failing filling cannot keep a tooth properly sealed. This creates small spaces where bacteria can grow without being affected by your normal oral hygiene routine. Left alone, a failing filling becomes the ideal place for an infection to set in.
Without proper medical care and a new filling, an infection in the gap created by a failed filling could lead to further tooth decay. Given the damage already done prior to your initial filling, it is relatively easy for a new infection to reach the most sensitive parts of your tooth, necessitating a root canal or worse. Ultimately, it proves better to track your fillings and see your dentist every six months. That way you can ensure you replace them as needed.