• Different Types of Dental Fillings & How Long They Last

    A dental filling is used to restore a tooth when it has been damaged by decay or to repair it when it has been cracked or broken. Most people associate fillings with cavities since they are among the world’s most common health problems. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, 92% of adults in the U.S. have had tooth decay in their permanent teeth.

    Different Types of Dental Fillings

    There are several different types of fillings available to you which can leave some patients wondering what the pros and cons are of each. They vary in several ways including cost and durability. Here are some of the options available to you at Hawkins Family Dental:

    Types of Dental Fillings

    Composite Fillings

    Composite fillings are one of the most popular filling options because they are the most aesthetically pleasing. Though they tend to cost more, they’re made of a mixture of plastic and glass which can be matched to the color of your teeth. These are especially ideal for front and side teeth that are visible, but have even become popular in back teeth simply because they are more appealing cosmetically.

    The process used to place composite fillings also takes longer than other options. If the filling is being placed on a child or person with special needs who may have difficulty staying still in the dentist’s chair, an alternative may be a better choice.

    How Long do Composite Fillings Last?

    No dental filling lasts forever, but composite fillings are fairly durable. You can expect them to last somewhere between 7 and 10 years given that you take good care of your teeth with regular brushing, flossing, and visits to the dentist. Composite fillings will not last as long as amalgam fillings and are more likely to chip depending on their location in the mouth. For this reason, composite fillings are best used on smaller cavities and damage.

    Amalgam Fillings

    Amalgam fillings are a mixture of silver, zinc, tin, copper, and mercury and have the appearance of silver. For cosmetic reasons, amalgam fillings have become less desirable in recent years, though they were used for over a century and were at one time the most common dental fillings out there. They can also cause grayish discoloration in the surrounding tooth as they tarnish over time adding to their cosmetic obsolescence.

    Amalgam fillings may also require removal of more of the surrounding tooth structure than other alternatives. However, these fillings are the most affordable option which, in addition to their strength, makes them still a desirable option for many people.

    How Long do Amalgam Fillings Last?

    Amalgam fillings are highly durable and last, on average, 10 to 15 years. Because of their strength and durability, amalgam is ideal for fillings in the back of the mouth where the most extensive chewing occurs, but there is a slightly higher incidence of cracks and fractures in amalgam fillings due to their tendency to expand and contract more than alternative fillings.

    Some insurance plans may not cover composite fillings, so it’s important to talk with your dentist about which types of tooth fillings are right for you and explain to them if composite may be cost prohibitive for you. There are pros and cons to both of these options offered at Hawkins Family Dental and every patient has different needs, so please give us a call to discuss with you which type of dental filling is right for you.

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  • Posted by Kate Welling on October 9, 2018, 12:50 am

    I wasn’t aware that there were so many different types of dental fillings. I can see how composite fillings are the most popular because they can match the color of your teeth. My niece is living with me for the winter, and she said she has never been to the dentist before. She keeps complaining about tooth pain, so I suspect she has a cavity! We will have to talk to a dentist about what filling would be best for her because she has a hard time sitting still for a long time.

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