Composite fillings are the modern way to fill cavities. When tooth decay leads to a hole in the enamel of a tooth, the cavity needs to be filled to preserve the health of the tooth. When left untreated, a cavity will only worsen, getting deeper and deeper until the tooth needs more complex treatment or is untreatable.
If your dentist has informed you that you have a cavity that needs to be filled, you may be wondering how long composite fillings last? Here’s what you can expect.
What is a Composite Filling?
Composite resin is a tooth colored material that resembles natural tooth enamel in form and function. When a tooth has a cavity, the decayed portion of the enamel must be removed. Then the cavity is filled with composite material that is thick like glue, then hardened using a special light that holds the tooth together. The composite material can be made to match the color of your existing tooth enamel so that it looks natural.
Average Lifespan of a Composite Filling
The average lifespan of a composite filling is reported to be between 7 and 12 years. However, you may find that your filling lasts longer than average and some patients have composite fillings that last a lifetime. What makes them last or not last? There are a variety of factors that affect the lifespan of composite fillings.
Factors That Affect the Longevity of Fillings
The following factors may affect the lifespan of composite fillings:
- Location of the tooth. Where the tooth is located in the mouth may affect how long the filling lasts. Molars bear the brunt of the chewing force, meaning fillings may wear down more quickly in molars than in other teeth.
- What part of the tooth is filled. If the filling is at the top, the chewing side, of the molar it will most likely wear down more quickly. Fillings in between the teeth may last longer because they aren’t affected by chewing.
- Oral hygiene habits. Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once a day will help keep your teeth and your filling clean. Composite fillings adhere more effectively to healthy enamel that is strong and free of plaque. Good oral hygiene habits also prevent plaque from forming around a filling that could cause new decay.
- Teeth grinding. If you grind your teeth, the force will take its toll on a filling that is on the chewing surface of a tooth. It is recommended that you wear a mouthguard at night to protect your teeth and fillings.
- Eating habits. What you eat can affect the longevity of your composite fillings. Eating hard or sticky foods and chewing on ice, bones, or non food items can damage your filling and cause it to wear down or even come loose. Make sure water is the last thing in your mouth after consuming sugary foods.
- Frequency of dental care. Having your teeth cleaned and examined every 6 months will help your composite fillings last longer and may prevent the need for additional fillings.
Are Composite Fillings Better Than Metal?
Yes, composite fillings act like a glue and hold the tooth together. We are able to make more conservative cavity preparations with composite thus keeping more natural tooth structure in the tooth which equals strength.
Metal fillings can last as long as composite fillings but they tend to be less conservative. This is because it is retained in the tooth through mechanical retention. Metal fillings also contain small amounts of mercury, which is known to be harmful to the body in large quantities and can stain the tooth after several years. Metal fillings also expand and contract with changes in temperature at different rates than natural tooth structure. This can cause gaps between the filling and the tooth and potentially cause the tooth to crack at the end of the filling's lifespan.
In the end composite fillings look more natural, have the same if not better lifespan than metal fillings, and are less likely to damage the tooth because it acts like a glue holding the tooth internally together.
Queens Crown Dental Provides Composite Fillings
Having a cavity filled is a quick and simple procedure. Queens Crown Dental takes a modern approach to dental care, providing composite fillings for effective cavity treatment.
Call 808-526-2800 or contact us today to learn more and schedule an appointment.