Avinash Sachdev

How Long Do White Fillings Last?

how-long-do-white-fillings-lastDental fillings are becoming more advanced with every year that passes, and the amount of time a dental filling lasts is improving too. Despite this, fillings still have a finite period of use before they start to fail.  We take a look at the different types of fillings and their potential lifespan.

Types of fillings

A dental filling is used to fill cavities and is classified based on the material that has been used. The first type of filling we will discuss is metal fillings, which are formed from single elements such as gold or amalgam. This type of filling is fairly traditional and involves the dentist preparing a malleable mixture of the metal in order to fill the cavity. While this type of filling does have good longevity in the mouth, and can prevent future breakage, they have some drawbacks.

These drawbacks include the fact that amalgam fillings are very dark in colour so they can be very noticeable when speaking or eating if used in the front of the mouth. Moreover, amalgam fillings do have some mercury within the mixture, which can be poisonous if consumed in large quantities. Although obviously the amount of mercury used is very small and not dangerous, it does have some potential to cause harm in the long term. The second type of dental filling is a ‘white filling’ which are made to match the colour and texture of your surrounding teeth. This type of filling will be discussed in the next section, which will go in depth into each type of white filling and their key properties.

Properties of white fillings

Porcelain filling

This type of filling is made from medical-grade porcelain and is prepared in a dental laboratory to match the exact shape of the damaged tooth. The restoration is made by a dental laboratory technician who moulds a piece of ceramic into the exact dimensions needed to fill the cavity. Finally, this porcelain filling is then glued onto the tooth, utilising a special adhesive. These fillings are customised based on the individuals tooth colour/texture. As porcelain is sheen and has a similar texture to teeth, the filling can be effectively indiscernible from the rest of the tooth. You may even manage to forget you have fillings based on the similarity to the rest of your teeth.

Compared to other filling options they are more costly because they require additional skills and additional team members. They also will require longer periods of time to make. With regards to longevity, they should last a significant period, typically around ten to twenty years.

Composite filling

This type of filling is made from a durable resin and will completely plug the cavity in the tooth. It is a highly flexible type of filling and can be moulded to match both the size and unique shape of the tooth. There are many different shades that are available to ensure that the filling blends in with the colour of your natural teeth. This is a great solution for those who need cavities filled for teeth that are near the front of the jaw and are fairly visible.

This type of filling is ideal for restoring smaller cavities and retaining the maximum amount of the natural tooth as possible. Another main benefit of white composite fillings are they strongly bond to tooth structure. This is a major benefit over metal fillings, as you often require removal of some tooth structure in order to create mechanical retention.

White fillings are also quite inexpensive compared to other options like crowns, and the process itself can be a lot quicker. The longevity of this type of filling is decent usually lasting around 7 to 15 years, as long as they are kept in good condition.

Glass Ionomer filling

This type of filling is formed from glass and acrylic; however, it is weaker than the aforementioned porcelain and composite options. Subsequently, these fillings are used for smaller cavities and areas closer to the gum line to avoid unnecessary stress on the filling from the chewing ends of teeth. Their longevity is not as good as composite white fillings as they are not as durable and thus usually last for around five to seven years. Although a key benefit of them is that they can be applied easily and can plug small cavities to prevent future damage. One major drawback of composite white fillings is they require a strictly dry environment when bonding in. Any saliva contamination will lead to a decreased bond strength. Glass Ionomer fillings on the other hand do not require a strictly dry environment and so are useful in some situations.

If you would like to discuss the options of a white fillings, call the practice, and we will see how we can help: 020 3925 3846.