It’s a common misconception that dental fillings last for the remainder of a patient’s lifetime. While they can last for many years, longevity depends most importantly on how well you take care of your teeth, but can also depend on the type of material your dentist uses for the filling. At Brewery District Dental, we offer tooth-coloured fillings called composite as well as metal fillings called amalgam.
This newer type of tooth filling is much more popular with patients than its old metal counterpart. When you receive a tooth-coloured filling, your dentist can match the shade of the material to the natural shade of your tooth. The materials blend in seamlessly, which means you can disguise your dental work from others when you smile. Composite fillings can require less drilling, and they chemically bond to the surface of your tooth to stay in place.
The trade-off for the more aesthetically pleasing nature of tooth-coloured fillings is that they may require maintenance over time. For example, our teeth tend to darken as we age, but a composite filling will not. This colour mismatch may pose a problem for some, especially on a front tooth. In an instance like this, the filling may need to be replaced to correct the colour. Composite fillings usually require longer to complete than metal fillings as well. This isn’t a huge deal, but it will mean you’ll have to spend a little more time in the dental chair! As a general rule, to ensure that your composite filling lasts as long as possible, it’s important not to subject the treated tooth to unnecessary stress such as chewing ice or your fingernails.
If you’re in your 30s or older, you may have at least one metal filling in your mouth already. That is because amalgam material was the treatment of choice of dentists for several decades. This durable type of material usually lasts 15 years or longer before you need to consider replacing the filling. It also tends to withstand the forces from chewing better. Amalgam fillings could be a good option if you’re concerned about cost since they are typically less expensive than composite fillings.
One drawback you can’t get around with metal fillings is that it’s very easy to see them when you smile or open your mouth. However, metal fillings on the back teeth aren’t nearly as obvious. It’s also often necessary for your dentist to remove more of your tooth structure to get the metal filling to fit properly. In addition, this filling material can cause your teeth to darken over time, resulting in an undesired grayish hue. Finally, one percent of the population can’t even consider getting a cavity filled with amalgam material because of an allergy to metal.
Regular Preventive Care Essential
No one likes to hear that they need a tooth filled, but taking care of the problem as soon as possible is essential for your long-term oral health. By keeping up with your bi-annual preventive care appointments, it allows your dentist to detect and treat tooth decay as soon as possible regardless of the type of filling material used.
We encourage you to schedule a check-up with us at Brewery District Dental if we haven’t seen you in more than six months. Contact us today to get started.