Are Dental Fillings Permanent?

A majority of individuals will develop at least one cavity in their lifetime. This early stage of tooth decay can be treated by drilling away the damaged part of the tooth and filling the resulting hole. Therefore, you are likely familiar with receiving a dental filling.

But once you have a filling, you might not realize its larger role in your smile. You should take care of your fillings as well as you maintain the rest of your smile. Read on to learn more about dental fillings and how they can factor into your overall oral health.

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What Do Dental Fillings Do?

A cavity can develop when plaque erodes the tooth enamel and creates enough damage that a hole forms in the tooth. The dentist treats the problem by drilling away this decayed part of the tooth. Then they fill the resulting hole with composite resin. They cure it so it hardens into a dental filling.

This filling rebuilds and reshapes the tooth after this dental damage. With this restoration, you can feel confident in the way your tooth looks and perform oral functions as you normally would.

The filling will also create a seal over this vulnerable part of the tooth. This way, plaque and bacteria cannot infiltrate the area and create further dental harm.

How Long Will Fillings Restore My Tooth?

A dental filling can remain in your smile for many years, though the precise amount of time can vary for each patient. Generally, a filling will last for five to ten years, but it may stay in place longer with proper care and maintenance.

A composite resin filling will endure the wear and tear that your teeth regularly experience. But severe pressure or constant grating can cause the filling to wear down or fall out.

If the filling dislodges, the underlying tooth becomes exposed, leaving it vulnerable to decay and other dental dangers. Let your dentist know as soon as you can if this occurs. Otherwise, continue seeing your dentist for regular check-ups to make sure your filling remains securely in place.

Can I Get Another Cavity Under My Filling?

Once your dentist treats a cavity, the decay is gone from your smile and cannot return. The dental filling will also stop plaque from reaching this same part of your tooth to form another cavity. However, if you continue poor oral habits, another cavity can develop on the same tooth though in another area.

If a filling becomes loose or falls off, then the protective seal breaks. Plaque and other harmful residues can access this part of the tooth and form another cavity. Dentists refer to this issue as recurrent decay.

The dentist can treat this new cavity by removing the previous dental work, drilling away the decay, and giving the patient another filling. Some patients may need a dental crown to cover and protect a greater area of this damaged tooth after this treatment.