What are dental fillings?
When decay-causing bacteria come into contact with sugars and starches from foods and drinks, they form an acid. This acid can attack the tooth’s surface (enamel), causing it to lose minerals.
When a tooth is repeatedly exposed to acid, such as when you frequently consume food or drink high in sugar and starches, the enamel continues to lose minerals. A white spot may appear where minerals have been lost. This is a sign of early decay.
Tooth decay can be stopped or reversed at this point. Enamel can repair itself by using minerals from saliva and fluoride from toothpaste or through the application of fluoride by a dentist or dental hygienist. If more minerals are lost than can be restored, the enamel weakens and eventually breaks down, forming a cavity.
More severe decay can cause a large hole or even destruction of the entire tooth. If tooth decay is not treated, it can cause pain, infection, and even tooth loss.
A filling is used to treat a small hole, or cavity, in a tooth. To repair a cavity, a dentist removes the decayed tooth tissue and then fills the space with a filling material.
How long do dental fillings last?
There are multiple factors that will impact the lifespan of your fillings, however, on average you can expect your dental filling to last for around 10 years. These days, there are restoration treatments that can last for two decades or more.
Factors that may impact the life of your filling include:
- Your typical diet
- Your dental oral hygiene routine
- Physical trauma to the mouth
- Oral decay
- Persistent teeth grinding
Fillings Need to be Replaced
Fillings typically will last for a decade with proper brushing and flossing. If your teeth are subject to more wear and tear than average, such as from grinding, you may need to have your fillings replaced sooner. The dental team at Brian L. Porter, DDS is here to help you.
We work with our patients to preserve their natural teeth as much as possible. Contact us today to learn more about your options for tooth restoration in Baytown, TX and surrounding communities.
What Types of Filling Materials Are Available?
Today, several dental filling materials are available. Teeth can be filled with gold; porcelain; silver amalgam (which consists of mercury mixed with silver, tin, zinc, and copper); or tooth-colored, plastic, and materials called composite resin fillings. There is also a material that contains glass particles and is known as glass ionomer. This material is used in ways similar to the use of composite resin fillings.
The location and extent of the decay, cost of filling material, your insurance coverage, and your dentist’s recommendation assist in determining the type of filling best for you.
Advantages of composites:
- Aesthetics — the shade/color of the composite fillings can be closely matched to the color of existing teeth. Composites are particularly well suited for use in front teeth or visible parts of teeth.
- Bonding to tooth structure — composite fillings micro-mechanically bond to tooth structure, providing further support.
- Versatility — in addition to use as a filling material for decay, composite fillings can also be used to repair chipped, broken, or worn teeth.
- Tooth-sparing preparation — sometimes less tooth structure needs to be removed compared with amalgam fillings when removing decay and preparing for the filling.
Disadvantages of composites:
- Lack of durability — composite fillings wear out sooner than amalgam fillings (lasting at least five years compared with at least 10 to 15 for amalgams); in addition, they may not last as long as amalgam fillings under the pressure of chewing and particularly if used for large cavities.
- Increased chair time — because of the process to apply the composite material, these fillings can take up to 20 minutes longer than amalgam fillings to place.
- Additional visits — if composites are used for inlays or onlays, more than one office visit may be required.
- Chipping — depending on location, composite materials can chip off the tooth.
- Expense — composite fillings can cost up to twice the cost of amalgam fillings.
Prioritize Your Dental Health
A healthy life starts with a healthy smile. Neglecting to take care of your dental health can lead to painful, expensive, and irreversible damage to your smile. Our dentists Dr. Brian L. Porter or Dr. Kelley Joo, work with patients to help them take charge of their dental health. Schedule your dental check-up by reaching out to Brian L. Porter, DDS at 281-422-3415 today.
Brian L. Porter, DDS
1109 E. James Ave.
Baytown, TX 77520
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