Lifespan and Care of Dental Fillings
Dental fillings are commonly used to treat tooth decay and damage. By restoring the functionality and health of teeth, dental filling help to keep them healthy for a longer period of time. Having knowledge about the lifespan and care of dental fillings can help prolong their durability.
What is a Dental Filling?
A dental filling is a treatment method used to repair a decayed or damaged tooth. It is usually made of materials such as composite, porcelain or amalgam. The color of the filling is selected to match the natural color of the tooth, except for amalgam.
The dentist places the filling material into the cavity or hollowed-out portion of the decayed or damaged tooth, restoring its function and appearance. The filling stops the progression of decay or damage in the tooth and helps maintain its health.
When are Dental Fillings Used?
Dental fillings are used in the following cases:
- Tooth Decay: Dental filling is used to treat tooth decay. After removing the decay, the dentist fills the cavity with filling material to restore the tooth's normal function.
- Cracked or broken teeth: Fractures or cracks in the teeth can be treated with dental filling. The dentist ensures that the tooth remains healthy by filling the cavity of the broken or cracked tooth with filling material.
- Tooth Wear: Dental filling can be used to treat worn teeth. The dentist fills the worn area of the tooth with filling material to restore its normal function.
- Closing Gaps between Teeth: Dental fillings can be used to close gaps between teeth (diastema). These gaps can affect the normal function of teeth. By filling them with filling material, the natural appearance and function of the teeth can be restored.
- Cosmetic Purposes: Dental fillings can be used to enhance the aesthetic appearance of teeth. Stains, decay or gaps in the front teeth can be filled with filling material to restore their natural appearance.
Lifespan of Dental Fillings
The lifespan of dental fillings can vary depending on the material used, the size of the filling, its usage and maintenance. Generally, they can last between 5 to 10 years. However, the lifespan of a filling can be extended through regular check-ups and proper care under the supervision of a dentist.
The factors that determine the lifespan of a dental filling are as follows:
- Filling Material: The lifespan of dental fillings varies depending on the material used. The most commonly used materials today are amalgam, composite and porcelain.
- Size of the Filling: The size of the filling is determined by the extent of damage to the tooth and the amount of filling material required. As the size of the filling increases, its lifespan may decrease.
- Usage of the Filling: The lifespan of dental fillings is influenced by their usage. Exposing fillings to the chewing function of the teeth can shorten their lifespan. Additionally, if the patient has a parafunctional habit like teeth grinding or clenching (bruxism), the fillings may wear down or break earlier.
- Maintenance of the Filling: The lifespan of dental fillings can be shortened if proper care is not taken. Regular dental check-ups and correct oral hygiene practices can prolong the lifespan of fillings. Factors such as using the correct brushing technique, using dental floss and maintaining good oral hygiene help reduce the risk of secondary decay underneath the filling.
How to Care for Dental Fillings?
You can consider the following recommendations for dental filling care:
- Brushing: Brushing plays an important role in dental filling care. Regular brushing helps remove plaque and bacteria from the surface of the fillings, as well as protecting the teeth surrounding the fillings.
- Flossing: Flossing helps clean food debris and plaque between the teeth. This helps maintain healthier gum tissues around the dental fillings.
- Regular dental check-ups: Regular dental check-ups extend the lifespan of dental fillings and allow for early detection of any potential issues. Typically, dental check-ups every 6 months help prolong the lifespan of fillings and keep the teeth healthy for a longer period of time.
- Avoiding hard foods: To extend the lifespan of dental fillings, it is important to avoid consuming hard and hot foods. Particularly, hard foods like chocolate, nuts and peanuts can cause the fillings to break.
- Use of mouthguards: To extend the lifespan of dental fillings, it is recommended to use a mouthguard during sports activities and in situations such as teeth grinding. Mouthguards protect the teeth from impacts and prevent the fillings from breaking.
- Avoiding smoking and alcohol consumption: Smoking and alcohol consumption can harm the teeth and fillings. They can shorten the lifespan of dental fillings and contribute to gum diseases.