When Dr. Shackelford shares the news with a patient that they have dental decay that requires a filling, he often gets a lot of questions, especially if it’s the first filling. “Will it hurt?”, “How long will it take?”, “Do I need shots?”, “What should I expect when getting a filling?” And they’re all relevant questions. But there’s one that so few people actually ask, and that is “How long will the filling last – forever?” Perhaps most people assume that once a tooth is has been restored with a filling, the result will last for the rest of their life, or at least, a very long time. So Dr. Shackelford thought he’d provide this key information.
What are Dental Fillings?
Dental fillings are a great way to keep your natural teeth healthy by encasing, filling in, and protecting any decay that may have occurred in a tooth. At Dentistry of Johns Creek, we offer a few types of filling procedures – traditional and Waterlase MD. The Waterlase MD allows for precise cavity preps with no pain, needles or drills (in most cases). Plus, minimal amounts of tissue are removed, helping to preserve as much tooth surface as possible. The composite restoration is placed and you’ll be on your way with no discomfort or numb lip.
Under specific circumstances, a different material may be warranted. Although white composite fillings are the norm, the type of material used is the fundamental determining factor as to how long the life of your dental filling might be. Unfortunately, the life of a filling is not infinite, no matter what the materials.
More commonly the preferred treatment for cavities, white fillings, also known as tooth-colored or composite resin restoration, are a great way to make your cavity restorations essentially undetectable. Dr. Shackelford will closely match the filling material to neighboring teeth, making it look like a healthy, natural tooth. There is a trade-off for aesthetic superiority, however. The expected lifespan of a composite resin filling is about 7-10 years, depending on the location of the filling and your oral health habits. However, it’s one of the most viable, trusted options for treating cavities and the most popular choice at our practice.
Silver or amalgam fillings are a more antiquated option for treating a cavity. They do last longer than a composite resin filling, usually about 10-15 years, but the gunmetal silver color is generally considered unattractive, particularly in teeth that are visible when smiling or speaking, and for that reason, we rarely utilize this option at our practice. In addition to these restorations causing teeth to look gray, dingy, and discolored, they also usually require more of the undamaged tooth to be removed for application. And some safety questions have been raised in the dental community in recent years. In general, this material has been replaced at our practice with the more natural tooth colored composite material.
Why Do Fillings Need Eventual Replacement?
Time is not dental work’s friend, because of the usual stress we place on our teeth and dental work. Dental restoration material wears down over time, making the restoration less effective as it ages. Often secondary tooth decay materializes around the dental filling or on the surface area surrounding the filling, making more dental work required. If additional restoration is completed the lifespan of the original filling decreases. In certain circumstances, we may recommend that a crown or onlay on that tooth that would maximize the lifespan of that restoration.
Quite often dental filling restoration doesn’t last as long is associated with tooth injuries and consistent dental problems such as teeth grinding. This type of impact can contribute to the wear or damage on a dental filling, necessitating the eventual replacement.
If you think you may have a cavity, don’t wait to get it checked out at our convenient location off of McGinnis Ferry Road and Peachtree Parkway, which is Highway 14, right across from Emory Johns Creek Hospital on Hospital Parkway in Johns Creek, GA.