Composite fillings: How Long Do Composite Fillings Last?

Do you have a tooth filling in your mouth?  Many adults over the age of 30, usually have one or more dental fillings in their mouth. A tooth filling is one of the most common dental restorations.  Most people at some time in their life will end up with a tooth cavity or multiple tooth cavities.  Tooth fillings have come a long way in the last 40 years. 


Composite fillings


The majority of tooth fillings 40 or 45 years ago, were done by using a group of alloy amalgam materials - these tooth fillings were called amalgam fillings.  Older people are more familiar with amalgam fillings than youngsters.  Amalgam fillings were silver or black in color.  Due to the mercury in amalgam fillings and the fact that they are aesthetically not pleasant looking, most dentists are now using composite fillings to fill a tooth.  The one thing with amalgam fillings is that they could last for a very long time. That is why there are people that have had the same amalgam fillings in their back molar teeth for twenty or thirty years with no tooth pain problems. Composite fillings came into the market mostly in the late 1970s and early 1980s.  So, composite fillings are somewhat newer as a dental product in dentistry. 


Most people end up with one or more dental caries during their lifetime.  Those who do, need to treat caries or cavities as soon as possible.  As we will be dental blogging in this dental filling blog, the smaller the cavity - the easier it is to treat and fill.  During the last decade, in the US and most European countries, composite filling has become the dental treatment of choice. 



What are the advantages of composite fillings?

Here are some composite tooth fillings advantages which we will discuss further down in this local dentist article. Composite fillings may not need much drilling or prepping of the tooth.  Composite fillings do not have mercury in them and composite fillings are white or tooth-colored.  Hence, composite fillings can match the existing teeth in the mouth (not be a dark silver-colored filling). 

Before the advent of composite fillings, only dark or silver-colored amalgam fillings were available. Not only were these fillings not very nice aesthetically, but they also would contain most likely mercury - which is not very healthy for the body.  Though, many people with old amalgam fillings that are in good condition - still rather keep them, than have them removed. Also, many countries in the world - still use amalgam fillings, though most Western countries in Europe and the USA have moved more and more away from amalgam fillings.

Composite fillings have improved greatly over the last 25 years.  Composite fillings originally would leak and not last long.  The leakage in the composite fillings could possibly cause caries to develop under the filling.  Nowadays, composite fillings last longer and do not leak as they once did.  Modern composite filling materials are much stronger and able to last longer. 

That said, composite fillings still have time to time - can fall out, and may end up needing to be replaced every 5 to 10 years.  We will be doing local dental chatting online about composite fillings and local dental chat about tooth filling in this dentist blog.

How is a dental composite filling done?

Why is blue light used during a composite filling?

Each dentist uses different dental composite filling materials, that may require different steps.  Let's discuss in a simple way how composite filling restorations are done - without getting too technical, so it may be easier to understand for the non-dentist. The steps are as follows:

1. After proper diagnosing and treatment planning, the tooth filling is prepared usually with a drill or what dentists term a handpiece.  The handpiece can be a slow-speed or high-speed handpiece.  The high-speed handpiece is usually used to drill away the cavity and prep the tooth. 

We will not get into detail about the local anesthesia being used by the dentist (the needle shot).  For small or light composite fillings, anesthesia may not be needed.  For deeper composite fillings, getting the tooth numb with local anesthesia will most likely be needed.  So, after prepping the tooth and drilling out caries, the tooth is cleaned and then the composite filling material is placed in.  There are various adhesives or etchants a dentist may use after drilling away caries, but we do not want to get too much detail. 

Once the malleable or softer composite material is placed into the cavity - then usually UV blue light is shined towards the filling - to harden the soft composite material.  The blue UV light is known as a curing light.  Once the composite is hard and safely in place, then your dentist will polish or trim your excess composite filling - to get the right bite.

To recap in a simple way how usually a dental composite filling is done?


(1)  May need local anesthesia to numb the tooth? If very small composite filling, you may not need to numb the tooth.

(2)  Prep the tooth by using a handpiece to drill away caries.

(3)  Clean out the tooth cavity and then your dentist will use various adhesives and composite filling material.

(4)  Use blue curing light to harden the soft composite filling material.

(5)  Polish the composite and the tooth, to make the bite just right.

Now that the composite filling has been done - what should be done right after leaving the dental office with a new composite filling?

What to do right after getting a composite filling?

Each dentist and dental office will have some do's and don'ts after getting a composite filling.  Generally, want to not eat the filling right away.  Even if can wait an hour or two it helps.  Some dentists will say to stay away from coffee right after getting a composite filling in the front teeth, because it may cause the filling to stain slightly.  If you have had a large composite filling and your mouth is numb, then be careful chewing right away - as may accidentally bite your lip or tongue.  Generally, the numbness should start to fade away within an hour or 2 hours after the dental procedure (though this can vary).  

Is tooth sensitivity possible after getting a composite filling? The common white filling dental question that gets asked is, why have teeth sensitivity after my white tooth filling?

There is a possibility that there may be some sensitivity after having composite fillings done.  This will depend if it was a "deep" filling close to the pulp nerve or not.  The sensitivity should go away after a day or two.  I have problems and pain for several days after having a composite filling done, can make a dental appointment to have it checked out.

Common Online Dental Questions About Tooth Fillings

-  How long does a tooth filling last?

-  What is Tooth Bonding?

-  Teeth Bonding Chat online about why is it called tooth bonding filling by some?

Tooth bonding is a process that your dentist applies a tooth-colored composite resin to one or more of your teeth. Tooth bonding is done for numerous reasons. If they’re chipped, fractured, decayed or simply discolored - composite fillings may be a good cosmetic solution that can fix your cavity and make your tooth look better. The tooth-bonding composite can be used to fix broken teeth.

When the white resin is applied to the damaged area, this is called bonding. Your dentist will ensure that the color of your teeth matches the resin so it blends in easier. A special blue light is then pointed toward the resin to harden the affected area and fix it. If severely broken, you may need a dental crown or an onlay / inlay form of restoration. Both onlays and inlays can be done in various ways.

Usually, your dentist will take an impression of the tooth to send to a lab, though this procedure can be done in various ways.  The reason it is called composite bonding filling, teeth bonding fillings, or tooth bonding filling at times - is because the composite resin material bonds to the tooth. Hence, some call it tooth-bonding material, etc.

Broken Tooth Bonding Chatting, Tooth Composite Filling Chat, Online Cosmetic Dentistry Blogging, Local Dental Veneers Blog, and Online Tooth Fillings Chat with us DentalChat. More content will be added over time.

Why do composite fillings break, crack, or fall off? There are times when the composite breaks, or the bonding filling breaks. When this happens, the tooth will need to be restored by your dentist. Depending on how severe, it may be as simple as refilling the tooth. If the large part of the tooth breaks off with the bonding filling, then it may need a dental crown.

-  Why did my tooth filling fall out?

-  Fillings can break or fall off for many reasons:

Composite fillings are used to fill a tooth cavity in many ways.  On back molars, they are usually used to fill in a hole in the middle part of the tooth.  Sometimes, composite fillings are done on the front or facial surface of the tooth.  These go on flat to the surface, with a small area of drilling done.  These facial composite fillings are more likely to come out or fall out. Let's discuss some ways or reasons why a tooth filling can fall out? Composite Filling Question we get asked a lot is - How long will my white fillings last? Here is some composite filling information.

(1) If the filling is too big and covers a large part of the tooth’s surface, the filling and part of the tooth may break off. Fillings are not meant to cover large parts of the tooth. In these cases, a better option may be to get a crown, an inlay, or an onlay type of dental restoration.
(2) Some composite fillings are placed under the gum line. These fillings are usually glued into place and are more susceptible to falling off – especially if you aggressively brush your teeth.

(3) Sometimes a cavity forms underneath a large, and deep filling. A dental x-ray can help in diagnosing this,  for your dentist.  Then your dentist will be able to treat it.

As discussed,  asked many composite filling questions or posted a white-filling question online at DentalChat.  We welcome people posting their local composite filling problem questions or white filling seeking information with us.

Composite fillings since their invention have provided dentists and patients with a great way of filling in a tooth cavity. Another big benefit of composite fillings is that they are much more aesthetically pleasing and natural-looking.  This is compared to the old amalgam fillings that were either silver or black in color.

We did Tooth Composite Filling Chat, Composite Fillings Blog, Broken Tooth Bonding Chatting, and Local Tooth Filling Blog online. As was mentioned, perhaps the most common dental restoration procedure is the composite filling in the US.  We are at DentalChat looking to provide great local dental information online.  Ask us a dental question or can share your dental story on DentalChat.