Life Expectancy of Dental Fillings

October 10, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — drearnest @ 4:44 pm

Tooth-colored filling placed in molarTooth decay is preventable, but 91% of adults have had at least one cavity. If you’ve had a cavity or two, they were probably treated with fillings. They are a proven method of treating decay, but how long do fillings last? Various factors affect their lifespan like the materials used. Here’s how you can get the most out of your restoration and how to spot the signs that it’s time for a replacement. 

Life Expectancy of Dental Fillings

Composite resin is the go-to solution to treat decay, but it’s not the only material that has been used over the years. Fillings can be made from metals, ceramics, and other materials, which have different life expectancies. Although every situation differs, the average lifespan for common types of fillings includes:


Amalgam has been used for generations for its durability, which comes from a mixture of metals like silver, copper, and tin alloy. According to a 2016 study, most amalgam fillings need replacing after about 15 years.


Composite fillings are made of acrylic and ceramic resins to provide a metal-free solution that looks natural. While they don’t contain any metals, they are proven to last for 10 years or more with the right care.


You may pay more for gold fillings, but they can last for much longer than other materials. The American Dental Association reports an average life expectancy of 20 years.

Ceramic and Glass Ionomer

Ceramic fillings are made of porcelain, allowing them to look natural without compromising their durability. It’s not uncommon for a porcelain filling to thrive for more than 15 years. 

Not only does the material affect how long a filling will last, but also its size and location. Your oral hygiene habits, lifestyle factors, and diet can also influence your results. You can safeguard your investment by brushing, flossing, and using a mouthwash daily. Limiting sugars and starches will reduce your risk of new decay. Don’t forget to visit your dentist every 6 months for a cleaning and checkup. 

Signs of a Failing Filling

No matter how well you care for your smile, you’ll need a new filling, eventually. Your dentist will check your restoration at each appointment to look for anything concerning, like new decay. Contact your dentist if you develop any signs of a failing filling in between your regular visits, like:

  • Visible damage to the filling
  • Throbbing toothache
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Filling is discolored
  • Pain when biting or chewing with the tooth

You can ensure your filling lasts for many years by caring for your teeth and gums at home and visiting your dentist regularly. You’ll keep tooth loss at bay by preserving your natural smile.

About Dr. David Earnest

Dr. Earnest achieved his dental degree at the University of Texas Health Science Center and has completed advanced education in many specialties, like dental implants and osseointegration. He is a proud member of several professional organizations, including the American Dental Association and the Academy of Osseointegration. If you need a new filling, contact our office today to request an appointment.

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