Most Americans have had at least one cavity, which means – more than likely – they’ve had a filling. If you’ve had teeth fillings in the past, how do you know when it’s time for a replacement? And what do you need to know about the materials they’re made up of? Let’s dive into the matter to help you decide about your teeth!
What Are Teeth Fillings?
Teeth fillings, or dental fillings, are used by dentists to help fix teeth with a cavity otherwise known as decay or caries in the tooth). After the decay in the tooth has been removed, a filling will literally “fill in” the area. The material helps give your tooth structural integrity and protects against further damage.
Dental fillings are made out of different materials including:
- Composite – made up of acrylic and ceramic resins (at Dakota Dental, this is what we most often recommend)
- Amalgam – an amalgamation of silver, copper, mercury, and tin. Otherwise known as a “silver-filling.”. More on these later.
- Gold – often referred to as gold foil
- Glass – comprised of glass and acrylic
The type of dental filling used can determine its longevity. Not sure what your fillings are made of? Ask your dentist! They should have it recorded and will be able to inform you about what filling you received.
How Often Do Fillings Need to Be Replaced
Generally speaking, teeth fillings last ten years. But there are quite a few factors that can affect that timeline. As we’ve discussed before, dental hygiene can be incredibly impactful: the more you care for your teeth, the longer your fillings will potentially last.
Other factors include:
- Decay in the tooth – if your tooth continues to decay, your filling won’t be as useful and will need to be replaced.
- Teeth grinding – this consistent wearing down on the teeth can make a dental filling less impenetrable.
- Eating habits – sugary or sticky foods and acidic drinks can harm your filling over time.
These factors can decrease the lifespan of your filling. While it may be difficult for you to tell how your filling is holding up, your dentist should be able to tell quickly during a routine appointment. (Another reason why it’s so important to visit the dentist regularly!)
The Benefits of Removing Amalgam Fillings
Because they contain mercury, amalgam fillings can be hazardous to your health. According to the FDA, amalgam fillings are not recommended for those:
- currently pregnant, considering becoming pregnant, or nursing
- less than six years old
- sensitive to mercury
- with neurological impairment or kidney disease
If you currently have amalgam fillings but want to remove them, there are trusted techniques for safe removal. Talk to your dentist about whether removing your amalgam fillings is the right choice for oral health.
Dakota Dental: Dental Care at its Finest
Whether your teeth fillings are overdue for a replacement, or you’re ready to have a check-up, our team at Dakota Dental can help. We love taking care of teeth, including dental fillings! Schedule an appointment or a free dental consultation and let’s get your teeth in great shape.
Remember: the more proactive you are about your teeth, the better for them down the line!