How Long do Bonded Fillings Last?

Almost all modern fillings are bonded to the teeth in some way or other, which is why they can be counted on to stay in place for a good amount of time. However, the specifics of which material is used and the bonding method can have a significant effect when it comes to how long such fillings last. Other factors are also involved, such as the overall condition of the tooth that has been filled and the ongoing oral hygiene of the person who has the filling. We explain different types of fillings and how long you can expect your bonded filling to last. 

What are Bonded Fillings?

Dental fillings are used to fill your cavities or replace old fillings. Bonded fillings are made from a resin material that is bonded to your tooth. The purpose behind bonded fillings is to help restore your tooth and can be made to look like your natural tooth color.

Composite Fillings

These are sometimes thought of as “bonded fillings” because they match the color of the tooth, the same as cosmetic bonding. However, this is not the same as “tooth bonding.” A dentist will always call these “composite fillings” to avoid confusion about what type of material is used and to clarify their purpose.

Composite fillings are preferred for front teeth in almost all cases because they look natural. However, many patients and dentists prefer them for all teeth, not only because of their looks, but because they’re easier on the surrounding tooth material. Composite has more “give” than amalgam, so it is less likely to cause tooth cracking over time.

The downside of composite fillings is that they don’t last as long as amalgam (“silver” or “mercury” fillings). They last an average of seven years, according to Healthline. Leaking is common, and sometimes, the bond will eventually fail completely and the filling will fall out of the tooth. Therefore, it’s important to have these fillings checked on a regular basis.

One of the things that make these fillings unique is the bonding process relies more on chemical bonding and adhesion rather than mechanical attachment. The Cleveland Clinic notes that this makes the composite material more versatile because it can be used for purposes other than just filling cavities. Because the same material is used for cosmetic bonding, some people refer to these fillings as “bonded fillings.” However, actual dentists will always call these “composite fillings.” This is, perhaps, done to emphasize that the entire filling process is being done when decay is being repaired, as opposed to a simple cosmetic application.

Ceramic Fillings

Ceramic fillings perform both restorative and cosmetic duties. They are bonded to the teeth, so some may refer to them as “bonded fillings.” However, as with composite fillings, this is not a term you’ll see at your dentist’s office. Dentists prefer to be more specific so as to avoid confusion.

The ability of these fillings to do double duty makes them great for situations where there is actual decay to repair, but the tooth will look better if its visible face is entirely covered. Decay is removed, and then the ceramic filling is shaped to not only fill in the hole, but cover more of the tooth. Then, it is bonded onto the tooth using an adhesive.

These fillings usually last about 5-10 years.

Which Type of Bonded Filling is Best?

Of these choices, it is hard to call one type the absolute best. Which is best for you will depend on your top goals, your main budget, and the specifics of your dental condition. Composite fillings are the favorites of many dentists thanks to their versatility, good looks, relatively long life, and relative affordability compared to options like glass ionomer and gold. However, if your main concern is longevity, and you don’t care how obvious the filling is, you may want to “go for the gold” in the literal sense. Alternatively, if you want to make your entire tooth look great and not just have it fixed, you may prefer a ceramic restoration.

For a consultation to learn which bonded filling choices are best for you, make an appointment with us here at Dolphin Dental. We’ll be glad to discuss your options and go into detail on the pros and cons of each.

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