Most people will experience a cavity at some point or another in their life. When a tooth develops a cavity, the easiest way to treat it is by removing the decay and sealing the tooth with a dental filling. Unfortunately, dental fillings don’t last forever and eventually need to be replaced.

Find out how long your dental fillings will last and what happens when a Los Gatos dentist replaces them.

How Long Do Dental Fillings Last?

woman takes a break while exercising in los gatosThe lifespan of your dental fillings depends heavily on what type of material they’re made of. For instance, gold fillings last an average of 15 to 30 years, amalgam fillings last between 10 to 15 years and porcelain and ceramic fillings last between 5 to 7 years. Your fillings can last longer than these averages, but they will eventually need a replacement. At Top Down Dental, our Los Gatos dentist provides our patients with porcelain and composite fillings.

Although they don’t last as long as gold or amalgam fillings, they look more natural, don’t offer concerns about mercury, and provide your teeth with the strength they need.

When Does a Dentist Need to Replace a Dental Filling?

Just because it’s been 10 years since you got a filling doesn’t mean we will replace it. Usually, our dentist only replaces a dental filling for certain reasons.

Filling falls out – If your filling falls out, this is one of the first reasons why a dentist would replace it. It’s important to replace it sooner than later so that bacteria doesn’t get trapped into the tooth.

Your dental filling cracks – If your dental filling cracks you might only notice temperature sensitivity. For some patients, they don’t know until they visit a Los Gatos dentist for a routine cleaning and we see it on an x-ray. We will replace a cracked filling.

Your dental filling leaks – It’s possible for your dental filling to leak after it’s been placed. Signs of this are temperature sensitivity that lasts longer than three weeks. If you experience temperature sensitivity after we place a dental filling, please let us know so we can fix it.

Your filling wears out – At some point your dental filling will give out and become too worn to protect your tooth. During routine exams, our dentist will check on your existing fillings to make sure they’re still in good shape or find out if they need a replacement.

How Many Times Can a Dentist Replace a Single Filling?

There is no single number of how many times you can have a filling replaced. Usually, we will stop replacing the dental filling after the hole becomes too large. Once you have more filling material than natural tooth material your tooth no longer holds enough strength. In this instance, you might need an inlay, onlay, or dental crown to protect your tooth. You might also need a restoration instead of filling replacement if your tooth has several fillings in the same tooth. Unless you have sufficient tooth structure in place, a dentist can’t just replace dental fillings every single time.

Do you need a dental filling or dental filling replacement in Los Gatos? Contact Top Down Dental at (408) 354-5600 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Nancy Nehawandian, DDS today.