How Long Do Dental Fillings Last?

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Fillings are designed to minimize areas of decay and in some cases strengthen the tooth. Longevity of fillings is determined by the materials chosen, and by the location and skill set of the tooth. A filling may not last as long in a high-performance tooth that sustains more attrition, or in a tooth with a higher decay rate.

Tooth-colored fillings are the most popular for their more natural look. Unfortunately, our expert in dental fillings in Beverly Hills notes that these are the fillings with the shortest lifespans—about 7-10 years. How much attention you give your oral hygiene may revise this expectation upward or downward.

The longest-lasting fillings are gold, and are the least in favor with modern clients. Gold fillings are too noticeable for most smile-conscious people. However, gold fillings can last 15 years or longer.

Silver amalgam is a choice nearly as popular as tooth-colored composite fillings. However, these metallics not only serve as thermal conductors, potentially increasing tooth sensitivity, but can also stain the teeth over time. The expected lifespan for amalgam fillings is 10-15 years.

If you have cavities that need fillings or fillings that need replacement, contact our Beverly Hills cosmetic dentist today.

How are Tooth Colored Fillings Different?

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Tooth-colored fillings, or composite fillings as they’re also known, were meant to bring a visual component to tooth restoration. Metallic fillings don’t blend with tooth enamel, and amalgam fillings raise concerns about mercury levels. While tooth-colored composites have their drawbacks, their net strength is one of pleasant naturalism.

The drawbacks of tooth-colored dental fillings are less problematic in smaller restorations, where less bite force is required. But with recent improvements in the composite, these fillings have a bright lifespan—especially in patients with a lower decay rate.

Two of the materials commonly found in composites—plastic resin and silica filler—are naturally compatible with dentin, which is the tooth layer just beneath the enamel. This bonding agency is not possible with metallic or amalgam fillings, which merely form a protective layer for the tooth.

One negative of this bonding process is the potential for the composite to shrink, whereas an amalgam filling is more or less self-sealing.

But overall, tooth-colored composites create a shield against temperature changes in the tooth. Again, aesthetics are the top draw of these fillings. Our Northridge cosmetic dentist can blend shades to create a nearly-identical color for your filling.

Dental Restoration Options

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When a tooth is decayed or damaged, a restoration will be used to restore the tooth’s strength, shape, size, and appearance. Our dentists in Torrance will choose a restoration based on the extent of the damage and your needs.

Several types of restorations are available, including:

1. Dental bonding
Dental bonding is typically used for cosmetic restorations, such as discolorations or small chips. This is a fast, affordable restoration that can typically be performed without anesthesia, and offers aesthetically pleasing results.

2. Dental filling
A filling is usually needed when a tooth has a cavity or small area of damage. The filling is placed to strengthen the tooth, restore the lost structure, and protect from additional damage.

3. Inlay and onlay
An inlay or onlay is used when the tooth is too damaged for a filling. These restorations are made in a dental lab much like a crown but require less preparation, which means they are a more conservative option.

4. Dental crown
A crown is used when a tooth has been badly damaged and must be fully covered. This can happen when a tooth is broken near the gum line, cracked, or has had a large filling or root canal treatment.

Call our dental office today to learn more about the best dental restoration for your smile or to schedule an appointment with our team.