Dentistry
Cosmetic
Product Reviews
Updated on December 22, 2022
4 min read

How Long Do Fillings Last?

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Dental fillings don’t last forever, but they can last for several decades. 

Their lifespan depends on your oral hygiene, the filling size, the cavity's severity, and the filling material used. The four most common types of fillings are composite, porcelain, amalgam, and gold. 

When using porcelain or gold as a filling material, they are referred to as inlays or onlays. These custom restorations are made in a laboratory before being cemented onto your tooth. On the other hand, composite and amalgam fillings are shaped and hardened into the cavity on the spot.

Proper care can extend the lifetime of your filling. Regular visits with your dentist will help you determine when you need to replace a filling.

Types of Fillings and Their Lifetimes

Your dentist will help you choose the right filling material. Different materials will last different lengths of time, with most lasting a decade or more.

Composite Resin Fillings

tooth with dental composite filling

Lifetime: 7 to 10+ years

Composite resin is a popular material for fillings because it matches the natural color of your teeth. These fillings can last for about 7 to 10 years. Some dentists estimate they can last even longer with proper care. 

Porcelain Fillings

render of porcelain dental crown

Lifetime: Up to 15 years

Porcelain fillings are durable but expensive. They can last up to 15 years.

Glass Ionomer Fillings

Lifetime: Up to 15 years

Glass ionomer fillings are typically used for cavities just below the gum line. They’re not strong enough to last in teeth used for chewing (molars). 

An advantage of glass ionomers is that they release fluoride, which helps prevent future cavities. When placed correctly, they can last up to 15 years.

Amalgam Fillings

tooth with dental amalgam filling

Lifetime: 10 to 15+ years

Silver amalgam fillings can last for 10 to 15 years or more. 

Amalgam fillings are highly resistant to wear and tear, which is why they’ve been used for over 100 years. 

However, FDA research has shown that amalgam dental fillings release low levels of mercury in vapor. It can be inhaled and absorbed by the lungs, which can cause adverse effects in certain people. 

According to the FDA, the majority of evidence shows mercury exposure from amalgam does not lead to negative health effects in the general population. They do not recommend removing existing amalgam unless deemed medically necessary by a healthcare professional.  

Gold Fillings

tooth with dental gold filling

Lifetime: 10 to 30 years

Gold is the most durable filling material available. Gold fillings can last anywhere from 10 to 30 years. 

However, gold is not used in dentistry as often today because it is expensive and doesn’t match the natural color of teeth. 

Temporary Fillings

temporary filling scaled

Lifetime: 30 days

Temporary fillings are only meant to last about thirty days. 

They’re a short-term solution until you can have another type of filling procedure or oral treatment done. They close the cavity and prevent further decay.

Signs Your Filling Needs to Be Replaced

Dental fillings don’t last forever. You will know that your filling needs to be replaced if it falls out, cracks, or leaks. 

Other signs that your filling needs to be replaced include:

  • Tooth pain
  • Discomfort when chewing food
  • Sensitivity to touch or temperature
  • Recent injury to the face or mouth
  • It’s been 10+ years

You may not have any symptoms. However, your filling might still need to be replaced. You should see your dentist regularly to evaluate the health of your fillings.

If you don’t replace a broken filling, you may experience

  • Pain
  • Infection
  • Gum disease
  • Tooth decay, or loss

How Your Diet Impacts a Filling’s Lifetime

Your diet can have a significant impact on how long your fillings last. Eating sugary, sticky, and hard foods can decrease the lifespan of your filling.

A balanced diet is an essential part of your oral hygiene. It can also help your fillings last longer. Some nutritional tips that will boost the longevity of your filings are:

  • Minimize sugary foods
  • Don’t bite down on hard candy, ice, or other hard foods
  • Avoid gum, jerky, and chewy or sticky foods
  • Be mindful of dark beverages (coffee and tea) staining composite fillings

When to See a Dentist

You should see a dentist when your filling falls out or has sustained visible damage. You should consult them if you experience significant pain or sensitivity around your filling.

Visit your dentist at least twice a year for optimal upkeep of your filings.

How Can I Make My Fillings Last Longer? 

Maintaining fillings requires diligent oral hygiene practices.

Take care of your teeth and make your fillings last longer by following these tips:

  • Thoroughly brush your teeth at least twice per day with fluoride toothpaste
  • Floss daily
  • Limit your sugar intake
  • Stay away from sticky snacks
  • Rinse your mouth with an alcohol-free, therapeutic mouthwash
  • Avoid tobacco products
  • Avoid acidic drinks like sodas and juices
  • Try not to bite down on hard foods
  • Visit your dentist twice a year (or as recommended) for check-ups and dental cleanings

Summary

Dental fillings can last anywhere from 7 to 30 years, depending on the material. The most common filling materials include composite resin, amalgam, and gold.

You can increase the lifespan of your fillings by practicing excellent oral hygiene. Avoiding sugary, sticky, or hard foods can positively impact your filling longevity.

When your filling needs to be replaced, it may fall out, crack, or fracture. Visit your dentist routinely to have the health of your fillings evaluated.

Last updated on December 22, 2022
7 Sources Cited
Last updated on December 22, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
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  2. Do Fillings Need to Be Replaced? Here's What You Need to Know.” Parker Dental and Orthodontics, 201.
  3. Have More than Eight Dental Fillings? It Could Increase the Mercury Levels in Your Blood.” University of Georgia, ScienceDaily, 2016. 
  4. Badie, S. “How Long Do Fillings Last? Here's How to Tell If You Need Yours Replaced.” Saeid Badie, DDS, 2022.
  5. Pleis, D. “Dental Filling Care: How to Make Cavity Fillings Last.” Managing Wellness, United Concordia Dental, 2018..
  6. Root Canal Therapy.” Endodontic Services, Risser Endodontics, 2022.
  7. Dental Amalgam Fillings.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2021.
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