Oct 21

Cavities & tooth decay: How long do fillings last after treatment?

Oct 21

Getting treatment for your cavities is a very important step for your dental hygiene. There are different types of cavity fillings available in medical procedures. Depending on the type of filling you opt for, the procedure and its durability can be different. If you are thinking, how long do fillings last, we might need to do a deep dive on the nature of fillings and types of fillings.

Since cavities are a very common type of dental condition, the solution and treatment are varied to provide all kinds of options to people. These different solutions are equally important to research before you decide on which one to get. Here you will find answers to some commonly asked questions, including about particular popular types of fillings and how long they last.  Here are some things it will include.

Table of Contents

  1. How do you know you need a filling?
  2. What are the different types of fillings
  3. How long do composite fillings last?
  4. How long do amalgam fillings last?

How do you know you need a filling?

Starting with the reason for needing fillings, you need fillings for your teeth if you develop tooth decay or cavities. Now cavities can develop in your teeth due to eating habits and your dental hygiene.

To sum it up, there are four different layers/components that your teeth are made of, including pulp, dentin, enamel, and cementum. The topmost layer on the teeth is enamel, which is the hard crown substance helping your teeth chew down food. When bacteria from food remains start breaking away enamel, your teeth start developing cavities. It occurs usually with people who consume loads of food with starch and sugar, in addition to not caring for their teeth properly.

The reason behind needing a filling after you develop cavities is that your teeth never recover to their original shape once they’re affected by decay. Therefore, you need to get the cavity removed, your teeth cleaned, and then a filling put in the space that forms after cleaning away the cavity.

Regarding how to determine when you might need a filling, you can only make sure through a dental checkup. But some signs help you identify that you might be developing cavities, in case your doctor has not found them out yet. Here are some indicators that may be hinting towards a developing cavity.

  • Consistent sensitivity in your teeth
  • If you have continued toothache and/or bleeding gums
  • If you can see clear holes in your teeth, or cracks
  • A change in color or appearance of spots on your teeth
  • Lastly, it might also give you a bad taste and bad breath that lasts despite cleaning

These are some signs that might help you identify or hint at whether you are developing cavities. Get them checked by a dental professional and they will get you started on the filling process.

What are the different types of fillings?

  • Amalgam fillings

Also known as silver-colored fillings due to their common color, amalgam fillings are made of different metal components. These include tin, silver, mercury, copper, and zinc. Being one of the older types of tooth fillings used by medical professionals, amalgam is more durable and less expensive than other options of fillings. Other than a few people in the high-risk group, it is cleared as safe to use for the general public.

  • Gold fillings

Apart from the silver-colored fillings that are a result of different silver metals combining, gold, copper among some other metals combine to make gold fillings. Since gold is generally more expensive in metals, this is a rather more pricey type of filling option. Many consider the silver fillings closer to teeth than gold fillings as well, branding them as unnatural looking. They might be one of the top contenders of long-lasting for the question of ‘how long do fillings last.’ 

  • Glass ionomer fillings

Glass ionomer is a type of glass and acrylic combination used in fillings that help prevent developing further tooth decay. They are great for two different types of uses, as fillings themselves and as a base for another type of fillings, the composite fillings. They’re more expensive generally and are more commonly used for children as they are in the high-risk group of getting impacted by amalgam fillings.

  • Composite fillings

Composite resin made up of plastic and some fine glass is the main ingredient used in the making of composite fillings, also sometimes known as white-tooth colored fillings. These are one of the few types of fillings other than glass ionomers that match your tooth color. It is durable too, as the other options, but the acrylic resin and other particles involved cost more in general than alternatives.

  • Porcelain fillings

As the name suggests, porcelain fillings are made of porcelain that helps the professionals ensure that it looks exactly like your teeth. It is made by taking a measurement of your teeth and the requirement of the fillings, separately developing the fillings, and then putting them in place.

It is important to recognize that there are different materials involved in the making of different fillings because that determines how long each of the last. The overall time is 5-25 years, including different ranges for different fillings.

How long do composite fillings last?

There are a lot of factors that affect the lasting time of composite fillings, just as the other fillings. Some of the materials have different nature of wear and tear after use. The questions also vary such as how long do composite fillings last on front teeth, or molars, etc.


The size of these fillings, their location, the kind of food or beverages you consume, how the fillings are placed, and if you have any pre-existing dental conditions all determine how long they might last. Some people have a condition or habit of clenching their teeth or grinding them regularly, unintentionally, this is one of the common issues that affect if you have fillings.


There is a lot to consider before you get fillings, and decide which type of fillings to get. But in terms of definite years, composite fillings are understood to last 5-15 years after application. This is not a bad time to last on its own but compared to its price, and the time of other fillings, it’s much shorter.

How long do amalgam fillings last?

Amalgam and gold fillings are the two most long-lasting types of fillings. Amalgam fillings are understood to last 5-25 years and gold ones at least 15 and at most 25. This, however, is still not a definitive range because the time can still vary for people. These ranges are not fixed due to many reasons including the fact that you might just have a more rigorous chewing habit. Therefore, you might be able to extend their stay even longer if you are careful, or vice versa.

How different are fillings from regular teeth?

After you get your fillings placed, there is a significant amount of time it takes before it feels normal, or at least until you forget that you have fake material supporting your teeth. Again different materials have different periods that they take to heal or feel natural again.

In terms of the process, after the procedure, you feel a certain form of sensitivity and a little discomfort at first when the anesthesia starts to wear off. There are a few isolated cases of people who don’t end up feeling completely comfortable with the fillings even after a while passes. This happens if the procedure was not completely on the mark, the size or shape of the filling not correct, among other things.

You can make sure you do certain things more carefully, to avoid any obvious discomfort to yourself. Making sure you brush and clean your teeth more gently, chewing more gently, and avoiding certain foods is one category of measures. Another is to ask your dentist to prescribe a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug and/or recommend or point you towards a desensitizing toothpaste that helps in reducing the pain or sensitivity.

This was our guide on some common questions regarding fillings including, how long do fillings last, what are the different types of fillings and how that affects their durability etc. These are not all the questions you might have, and it's normal to research and ask as many questions as you want if you are heading towards a procedure. Make sure you also bring them to your dental professional so that they can assure you and inform you regarding everything.