How Long Does an Amalgam (Silver Colored) Filling Last?
Earlier this week, I was working with a patient who was having two gold crowns placed over some molars that had previously been restored with amalgam fillings. He said he had received the amalgam fillings about 30 years ago and they had recently broken, resulting in the need for the crowns. He asked if 30 years was a reasonable amount of time to expect the amalgam fillings to last. To be honest, it’s wonderful if an amalgam filling can last that long!
The Average Amalgam Filling Lasts About 12 Years
There have been quite a few studies that have tried to determine how long the “average” amalgam filling will last. One such study involved a single dentist in Belgium. The study followed 722 amalgam fillings that this dentist had placed between 1982 and 1999.
This study found that this dentist’s amalgam fillings had a mean lifetime of 12.8 years. The three most frequent reasons for failure of this dentist’s fillings were the amalgam filling itself breaking, tooth decay developing under the filling, and the filled tooth weakening and breaking.
Another study involved 659 dentists in Finland. Finland is one of the many European countries that are phasing out amalgam restorations to focus on the more aesthetically-pleasing tooth-colored fillings. This study concluded that the silver-colored amalgam fillings lasted just under 12 years. Interestingly enough, both tooth-colored fillings included in this study, composite and glass-ionomer lasted less than five years, and less than four years, respectively.
In 2002, a group of researchers scoured 16 electronic databases, and 36 dental journals to find all of the studies performed on the longevity of different types of restorations. They found 62 studies dealing with the lifetime of amalgam restorations. You can find a summary of their findings here. From these studies, they were able to compile lots of data. From this data, I put together the graph below which shows the estimate of the longevity of amalgam fillings.
As you can see in the above graph, roughly 80% of amalgam fillings are still in existence 10 years after they have been placed.
What is the Longest an Amalgam Filling Has Ever Lasted?
The professor that taught our amalgam class in dental school last year claimed to have seen amalgam filings that have lasted well over 50 years. He believes that if amalgam fillings are well-placed they can last a lifetime. Perhaps there are amalgam fillings that have lasted even longer.
If your amalgam filling lasts over 15 years, you should feel pretty good about it. Amalgam fillings seem to last longer than alternative materials because they consist of a metal alloy, which by nature is bacteriostatic. This means that it is very hard for the bacteria in your mouth to live around an amalgam filling because the metal makes them sick. This makes it harder for another cavity to develop under the amalgam filling, which helps the filling last longer.
As a general rule, all fillings will last longer if they are taken care of with regular brushing and flossing.
Do you have any good stories or experiences dealing with amalgam restorations? Please leave them in the comments!
I do agree with the Tom, My mom has an Amalgam filling from 14 years, around 13 years it works fine but after that filling has been broken. The doctor it is normally work till 12-14 years some of the exceptions are there.
Thanks for the comment, Donna!
That’s good it lasted that long. 12-14 years is just an average. I am currently reading a book by a dentist where he states that he has seen some good amalgam fillings last longer than 50 years.
Of course, how long the amalgam fillings last depends on a variety of factors such as whether all of the decay was removed, how well the filling “fits” inside the tooth, how big the filling is, and if it gets a lot of pressure placed on it during biting.
I have amalgam fillings that were placed on all my molars (because they were too deep, no decay) when I was 12 years old & have given me no trouble at all–and I am now nearing 60 years old! So, I hope they last my lifetime!
I have amalgam fillings that were placed on all my back molars (because they were too deep, no decay) when I was 12 years old & have given me no trouble at all–and I am now nearing 60 years old! However, my dentist wants to replace them with the composite, which I am very reluctant to do (since the composite only lasts at best, 7 years!)–what do you recommend? Should I get a second opinion? Or just get a new dentist? this dentist has been good, until this issue. Help!
No!! I did composite once!! It lasted two years!! Yes! Two years!!!
I’ve had my fillings for about 3years and it chipped! And I have not been able to floss that tooth and it chipped while I was eating
My Amalgam filling has lasted me 16 years now, and its still in excellent shape! (occlusal restoration on my 16, or, upper right, first molar). Hoping it’ll rival that 30 year you’ve seen!
Hi Dennis – I hope it lasts a long time for you, too! I have an older filling in one of my back teeth that is filled with a white filling. I think I’ll be getting an amalgam filling when I finally get it replaced.
I’ve had my amalgam filling since I was 16 years old, I’m now 33 years old so for it to last 17 years us pretty good going!
Hi Jean – Sounds like you’re doing a great job taking care of it! Hopefully you’ll be able to get at least another 17 years out of that filling. Thanks for your comment!
I got an amalgam filling on 2 of my molars when I was 8, went to the dentist yesterday and he kept going on and on about what a great job whoever put them in did…. He even brought in someone else to see them and look at the xray. I am 33 now so I guess he was right… Funny thing is I asked my older sister about the dentist today and she said he was the one who we went to as kids! So it was HE who put them in! HA HA HA I’ve thought about calling him back today to tell him….
Thanks for your comment, Lenita – you had me laughing! I’m not sure if he’d be flattered or embarrassed if you let him know it was really him 🙂
I have noticed that when I look at fillings that I’ve done in the past on patients when they come back for a checkup, the fillings seem to look a lot better than they did when I looked at them with a more critical eye when I was placing them. Thanks for sharing that!
I just had two amalgam fillings today! I wonder how long they will last this time. The last time i had an amalgam filling was back in 1997 after a root canal treatment. My question is: does the longevity of the filling last longer after a rc treatment or normal cavity filling? thanks for sharing this topic
Hi Sadiq – Generally, the larger the filling is, the shorter it will last. When you have a root canal treatment done, a lot of tooth structure is usually removed, resulting in a larger filling. My guess is that fillings in teeth with root canal treatment would not last as long as a normal cavity filling.
I hope that helps – if you have any other questions let me know. Thanks for your comment, Sadiq!
I am a dentist in Scotland and have 3 occlusal amalgam restorations in UL6, LL7 and LR6. They were placed when I was around 13 years old and I will be 36 this summer. At last examination, they were doing well after 23 years!!
Posterior composites certainly look much much better, but if I needed replacements of roughly similar size, I’d have to hear a good argument not to replace in amalgam!!
Hi Fiona – Amalgam is very durable. We had our “Restorative Dentistry Written Exam” that we have each semester today. As I was studying for it, I came across a quote by Dr. Gordon Christensen talking about how composites can last as long as amalgams in posterior class II restorations (fillings in the back teeth that cover the biting surface and the surface against the adjacent tooth, for those who are curious). Here is his full article.
I still have to say that I think amalgam is the better restoration for posterior teeth. Thanks for your comment!
Thanks for the link to that article. Very interesting reading!
I attended a lecture recently by Prof Trevor Burke (one of the UK’s finest) who pretty much agreed.
Small class II’s can look amazing and can last as long as amalgam when placed properly under the correct conditions.
He has written lots of papers on posterior composite placement and which materials he finds work best in different situations – some of his ideas on “layering” and placement of composite are really useful.
I’ve had both silver and white fillings in my back teeth. In my opinion the silver ones are miles better.
White ones, all the 6 I’ve had has been replaced so many time I can’t count. Has usually lasted a 2-5 years.
Silver fillings, none of the 6 old silver fillings I’ve had has failed. They are around 15 years old. I’ve now gotten two of the white fillings replaced with silver when they failed. They seem to be holding up good as well.
From now on, only silver fillings for my 16 back teeth.
Hi Janine – A majority of people experience the exact same thing in their mouths – that silver fillings are the ones that last longer than the white fillings.
Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment and let everyone know what’s working for you – have a great day!
I had to have 6 fillings when I was 10 years old. I have not had any cavities since. I guess getting those fillings was a great way to encourage good oral hygiene! I am now 40 and have only ever had to have one replaced when it cracked (with no decay in evidence). So, I have 5 amalgam fillings that are 30 years old and are in good shape as of my last check up!
Hi Serena – Thanks for leaving a comment – It’s always interesting to see how long people’s fillings are lasting for them. It sounds like you’re doing a great job with your oral hygiene. Keep up the good work and I’m sure the fillings will last much longer!
I am 56 and have tons of amalgam fillings in my mouth. My molars are all filled. I have had no problems with these fillings. I am certain the fillings are nearly 50 years old.
Hi Annachestnut – Thanks for sharing – I don’t think there are any composite fillings out there that have lasted over 50 years!
My dentist is now saying all of my fillings need to be replaced — even though they were all replaced within the past 4-5 years (by him). He stated fillings should only last 2 years. . . 3 years on the outside and that I’ve been luck to have them last the number of years they have. I replaced them originally because they were all 15+ years old and he said they needed to be replaced. . . but replacing them every 2 years seems extreme. I told him on that theory I would end up with a mouth full of crowns within 10 years, he replied, “Very likely.” Hum. . . . I should also mention I have EXCELLENT insurance.. . . hum. . .
Hi Jann – As I’m sure you know, if the fillings were done right, and you are taking care of them well, then they should last much longer than 2-3 years! It appears that your dentist may be taking advantage of your good insurance. To be sure, you may want to get a second opinion and see if the fillings really need to be replaced. Thanks for your comment, Jann!
i read more than a couple of articles that amalgam fillings are toxic, and that amalgam fillings releases mercury toxins anytime the filling encounters friction. true?
Hi Curious – Amalgam fillings contain mercury, which can be toxic when enough is ingested. From what I’ve read, there is such a small amount of mercury released from amalgam fillings, that there isn’t anything to worry about.
I hope that helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks for your comment!
Tom, you seem like a really nice guy, so I hope you don’t mind if I point out you’re in a very hazardous occupation. If you are placing and drilling out amalgams without careful protection to you, your patients, and your staff, you’re all probably in for serious health problems at some point. I’m in the middle of mine, as an ordinary patient with a mouthful of mercury installed 25 years ago.
Yes, the fillings must have been done well to hold up so long, but now I know why the second half of my life has been sub-par with regard to my health. I wish my dentist had had a bit more common sense, because I never wanted these–it was discouraging after over 20 years of “pretty teeth,” because they are ugly! I wasn’t given any choices, and I certainly wasn’t informed about what was being installed.
Documentaries: Evidence of Harm, You Put What in My Teeth?, Mercury Undercover, and probably many more. Books by scientists and doctors…dozens. There is tons of good research out there and I hope you’ll take time to thoroughly explore it. The people loudly proclaiming amalgams are safe and that they have plenty of evidence have not referenced anything I find convincing. Stating that “a little mercury is safe” is silly, considering what it is. The WHO says there is no safe level of mercury. That’s just one statement from one organization, but everyone should do their own digging and decide for themselves.
http://www.iaomt.org is where I wish I’d found you! =) Wishing you well.
amalgam is mostly mercury which is the most poisonous non radioactive substance to the human body. ofcourse they call it ” silver fillings” and never mention the mercury.. look it up do some research you’ll find it quite interesting
Great blog! Was searching the net about why crowns fall out (mine just did, after 1 year – but all sorted, no issues).
I had an amalgam filling on my lower left molar (furthest back) when I was 6. I have just turned 40 🙂
It has been a right little soldier, sitting there at the back without causing any problems. I often thought about changing it with a white filling – but it seems mad to do it only for vanity.
Hi Mette – Thanks! It sounds like the filling is working great. Any time a dentist drills in a tooth, there is a chance that it could traumatize the nerve enough to do some damage, so I would say that if it ain’t broke, there’s no need to fix it! Hopefully it will serve you for many years to come.
Thanks for your comment, Mette!
Hello, I have an 6 year old girl who needs two cavities filled. They are in the back of her mouth and are baby teeth. Dentist is recommending the amalgam filling but does offer the white resin. Hubby is concerned with the mercury and that the FDA advises against it. Also read that amalgam is bad for the female reproductive system. Which is better for a child and least time consuming to put in? Less time in the chair is always good. Is laughing gas a problem for kids and should it hurt getting filled?
Hi Concerned Mom – I’ve heard some news about the FDA and amalgam recently, but I only turned up with these guidelines issued in 2009 that classify it as moderate risk.
The amalgam will definitely be less time consuming and easier for a child since it isn’t necessary that the tooth remain absolutely dry throughout the whole procedure. The white composite fillings do require an absolutely dry tooth – you can think of it as being glued to the tooth, while amalgam simply sits in the tooth. Laughing gas usually isn’t a problem, and can help children get calm before the injection. As long as the injection works out well, your daughter shouldn’t feel any pain from the procedure, only slight pinching from the injection.
I haven’t heard of reproductive problems with the amalgam fillings, although the white fillings do contain estrogen-like compounds and now their safety is being questioned by some. Here’s a statement from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry on that subject.
If it were my daughter, I could probably go either way on it. If it seems like she’s cooperating well, I might go with the white filling. If she doesn’t (and my duaghter probably wouldn’t be the most cooperative for a dental procedure!), then the silver filling would probably be best. Either way, she will probably lose the teeth in a few years, so the goal is to keep the tooth healthy until then.
I hope that helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks for your comment!
I have 3 amalgam fillings on on lower back teeth. I don’t remember when I got them. It could have been 30 years ago. I have had no problems with them, but my dentist has recommended for 2 years to replace 2 of them because they could be decaying underneath. For the past week the nerve in my lower jaw on the side of the other filling that he said was fine has felt funny. The tooth itself feels fine. Could that filling be leaking?
Hi Pat – It could be that the filling is leaking as well. If you have a cavity under one filling, there’s a good chance that there could be cavities under other fillings. I would have your dentist take a look at it and see what’s going on. Also, it’s best to take care of the decayed ones now before they become a painful problem!
I hope that helps, Pat. Let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks for your comment!
I have amalgam fillings I’ve had over 30 years. Just got a new Dentist and he recommended replacing them all because they are “leaking”. I can see the teeth are cracked… but there’s no way to know how long they have been “cracked”.. My previous dentist saw them every year for the last ten years…and said nothing about replacing them. I haven’t had any discomfort in the last ten years.
Is it better to let sleeping dogs lie? Or get them all replaced? I am 54.
(In case you are wondering, my wife did not care as much for my previous dentist…so we switched.)
Hi Ivan – Depending on how many teeth will have fillings replaced, this can be quite an undertaking. Any time that the dentist drills into a tooth, there is a chance that it can cause irreversible damage to the nerve.
I do wonder why your previous dentist never found any decay, and now your current dentist says that all of the fillings are leaking. Something doesn’t quite add up to me, since tooth decay under old fillings would probably progress very slowly and if it really is there, then both dentists would have found it. If it were me, I would want to get another opinion to make sure that the fillings are leaking. Then if they are, I would get them replaced.
Amalgam fillings are usually the more durable fillings in the back teeth, so you could have the old amalgams replaced with new amalgam or opt for the more cosmetically-pleasing white fillings.
I hope that helps, Ivan. Thanks for your comment! Let me know if you have any other questions.
I had amalgam fillings set 13 years ago. Saw a new dentist today, and he says I have two that need a re-do. The fillings are not shiny, and he says that the dark coloration indicates that they should come out.
When I look at the fillings, part is still silver, and parts of them are colored a darker, perhaps not quite black color. Is this oxidation, or do fillings have two tones of colors (one silver and one darker)? Does it indicate I should have the filling replaced?
Note: The x-rays didn’t show anything, and the dentist says there are things you can see visually that won’t show in x-ray.
Hi Jeffrey – The edges of amalgam do start oxidizing after a while. The filling is one color when it was originally put in. Your dentist may have noticed that there is a gap between the tooth and the filling, in which case it is a good idea to replace the filling.
I hope that helps – Thanks for your comment, Jeffrey. Let me know if you have any other questions.
Hello, I’ve had tons of silver fillings. Most work very well. I don’t know how long I’ve had them. Not too long since I’m only 16. I think I’ve only had problems with one. I have to have some fillings in my front teeth though, and I was worried about how long those might last.
Hi Ambrosia – Sometimes white fillings can end up lasting a long time on the front teeth. A lot of it depends on how big the filling is and whether or not you hit the filling every time you bite together.
Hi Tom! I got 6 amalgam fillings 46 years ago without any problems until it was seen in the x-ray that the top molar was cracked and loose ( I was gargling with olive oil almost everyday for a better health). The first dentist that I went to see recommended onlay while the second one recommended crown porcelain ceramic. I got 2 friends who had onlays and when they were chewing on gums they came off. Is it necessary to do these procedures when the simplest and the cheapest thing to do is to replace the filling with amalgam?
HI Flora, in order to put in the porcelain, did your dentist have to take out more of the tooth?
where is your dentist located? ( i have never heard of a dentist who recommends ceramic – but I think that is a good recommendation).
Well, All I can say is I have amalgams that were placed in my mouth in the mid to late 70’s……well more than 12 years, however my dentist is advising I have them replaced with porcelain. He is not in a rush, but apparently my metal fillings have seen the last few months of their existence.
I’ve had amalgams for a long time and my dentist would like to replace 2. One is just old and the other tooth is cracked. They are the back 2 molars and I can’t decide whether to get amalgam or white. My old amalgam could be from 1965. Would it have less mercury than a new one?
I’ve had mine for around 25 years+ Hope I haven’t jinxed it now!
I am really concerned about some of the studies that linked amalgam fillings to skin problems, thyroid problems, and even cancers. Wikipedia has a great article on amalgam fillings. It was interesting to learn that 3 countries banned metal fillings due to concerns of mercury impact…
Hi, when Amalgam fillings wear off do you feel pain? Since yesterday I have this dull pain on my tooth. I can’t figure out why. Could be my amalgam filling is wearing off?
Just trying to read more before going to the dentist.
Hi, I have 8 posterior teeth with amalgam silver filling. I have had them on since I was 12, and I am now 20. I am a bit concerned about the mercury myth. Are amalgam filled teeth bad for you in the long run?
I have 2 very large amalgam fillings on my molars (1 upper and 1 lower), put in place in 1990. I should consider myself fortunate they are holding strong after 22 years.
I’ve had a few amalgam fillings done back when I 12 years old. I’m 30 now, and they still look good and haven’t given me any trouble. I just had a checkup and xrays yesterday and my dentist said they look great!
I don’t trust dentists. Period. I’ve had three different dentists recommend three completely different things within the same year’s time. One dentist said my old amalgam fillings are absolutely fine, the other said they were leaking, and yet another said they were fine. I decided to have two replaced with composite (one’s behind my front tooth) and a back molar. I wish I would have gone the amalgam route again. All three dentists did push composite as a replacement material whenever given the opportunity, but I demanded one be amalgam and the dentist honestly didn’t want to do it!!! I had to beg him to, is that not bizarre!?! They all keep saying that they’ll leak and crack/discolor your teeth, but honestly I have too much experience with the longevity of the silver amalgam, and have not yet had a single one crack before it’s time.
Now, just recently one of the old silvers has cracked (it’s had a good, long life) and I’m wondering how long is safe to wait before having it redone? The majority of the filling is still there, but I know I need to wait at least another week to be able to take time off of work for my appointment. Is it safe to wait two weeks?
Hi Rose – I’m sorry you’ve had some bad experiences. As for the cracked filling, many dentists will schedule fillings a few months out, so you’re probably fine to wait another week, but it’s always best to call the dentist you plan on visiting to make sure.
Hi Rose, just wondering how you had the amalgam fillings removed? Did they use a rubber dam?
what other procedures did they use?
I had a filling fall out a week ago. It’s in the top back part of my mouth. I’m going on vaction in 2 1/2 weeks . Can I wait or should I get it replaced before I leave? Also if I get a dental filling material how long will that lasts? Thanks
I’m surprised to find out that amalgam fillings last on average only 12.5 years.
I have several amalgam fillings that were done in the early 70s when I was a college student. They’re close to 40 years old now and no one has ever suggested that they need to be replaced. In fact, several dentists have admired their quality (they’ve also commented about the high quality of the small gold filling I have).
All of my fillings were done by dental students at the University of Iowa-and the gold filling was a board exam tooth.
Today was the first time I’ve experienced any difficulty with my teeth in approximately 4 decades. A piece on the buccal side of one of my premolars broke off while I was eating, leaving the filling and lingual surface of the tooth intact. I’ve already talked to my dentist (I’m traveling on business and halfway across the country from home) and have an appointment scheduled for Monday morning to repair the tooth (probably a crown).
I had 8 fillings when I was 10. 4 on the bottom and 4 on the top. I haven’t had a cavity since. Until today! I went to the dentist because my tooth was sore and the dentist took out the filling. Supposedly it was compromised and a new cavity under neath. I wish I had read this before I went today – because he asked me if I wanted the amalgam filling or composite. I choose composite. The fillings I had when I was 10 are now 33 years old.
Well – if I have to replace more – I will choose the amalgam ones going forward.
ive just returned from my dentist who says that silver fillings only last 5yrs and that mine need to be replaced again are they just trying to make money out of me
Over the course of my teen years, I had 15 amalgam fillings installed (yeah, I know, I was a horrible brusher). I’m 42, so most of these are 30 years old from the early 80s. I never had any problem with them, but I had heard they only last about 30 years. I had my first cavity in 30 years last week (in a wisdom tooth) so I thought while I get that filled, I might as well get the rest redone as preventative. The dentist agreed 30 years was a good run, so he drilled them out and replaced them (half this week, the other half next week). It was relatively painless with a shot of Novocaine(Lidocaine, whatever). The cavity part wasn’t painless, but the replacements were 🙂
I recently spoke to my doctor and asked if amalgam fillings lasted 30 years. He said he assumed they lasted a lifetime; he had several put in when he was serving in Viet Nam in the early 1970s, and I mean he had them put in IN a field hospital in Viet Nam, and they still have no problem today, over 40 years later.
So there you have 2 anecdotal cases of amalgam fillings lasting well over 30 years.
did you have the amalgam taken out and resin put in, or amalgam?
was the procedure to remove the amalgam with a rubber dam?
i’m 34. had amalgam put in at 16 years old. I have decided to replace them with composite. Molars, top and bottom filled with silver now. The pain is severe, it throbs for seconds at the top molar, then the pain fades away. Then 10 minutes later the throbbing moves down to the bottom molars and 10 minutes later the thobbing starts at the top molars. Not sure what is happening? An installed crown situated next to silver filling is also paining. The strange behaviour is confusing me, when i drink something cold or hot the pain is activated. I can bite on the teeth with no pain. But the pain is activated when there is a change in temperature.
I will be 60 in a little over a month, and one of my amalgam fillings was just removed to allow a crown to be placed to save the cracked tooth. This is the first of my amalgam fillings to need any work after placement, and I am pretty sure I had fillings by the time I was 10, possibly sooner. So my amalgam fillings have lasted 50 years or more, so far.
I recently moved and just went to a new dentist, and on the whole he didn’t seem like a scam artist or anything, I thought he seemed good. My question is: I have a number of amalgam fillings in my back molars, which are between 8 and 10 years old. The fillings themselves are holding up fine, but the dentist said that almost all of them needed to be replaced because there was a gap developing between the tooth and the filling. He did take his metal tool and show me how he could poke it into the gap on one of the teeth, so I’m inclined to believe him. On the other hand, my old dentist (before I moved) didn’t say anything about this, and it did seem like a lot to have five fillings replaced all at once, so I was just a little bit hesitant to take his word for it. Any thoughts on this? Is this a common problem, and is it a reason to have the filling replaced even if I’m not having any pain, etc? (The dentist also told me that amalgam fillings can shrink over time causing a gap between the filling and the tooth, which I had not heard before…)
I am writing with an update on my situation, inspired by David’s comment below (9/11/13). I ended up not asking that the dentist mentioned above replace my fillings, and instead, for my next 6-month visit I went to a nearby dental school where they have a faculty practice. They told me that one of my fillings did need to be replaced (and I probably should not have waited the 6 months to do it – there was a pretty big cavity) but the others were all fine. In the future, if I have a new dentist tell me something dramatically different from what I have been told before, I will get a second opinion if the recommended treatment will be invasive and/or expensive. I’m glad I didn’t replace all of my fillings for no reason!
I have two questions. Can brushing with an electric toothbrush for a good amount of time make your gums tender and sore to the touch?
Can having a tooth repaired and a inlay added to the one tooth that is next to a tooth (far molar) that has decayed and broken off 4 years ago, affect the new inlayed tooth?
i had quite a few silver fillings when i was about 8 or 9. i have recently started changing them out to white ones because i became very self-conscious about the silver ones. i only had them on the molars but were visible when i talked. some guy even thought i had abscessed teeth because they look black when i talk! im 15 now and never had problems with the silver ones. i think the white ones look much better. i heard as amalgam ages, it can expand and break your teeth. is that true? also my dentist who filled the ones when i was younger clearly stated i had BABY cavities. like really small ones, but the fillings were huge! i thought it was unnecessary if there was just a little bit of decay?
hi tom, having a pow wow with my dentist. after continual failure of amalgam fillings in # 31, i’m disgusted. filled in 2000,2005,2007,2009,2010 and finally a crown in 2011. have never had a dentist install a filling so fast. granted, these were not tiny fillings, however, i believe they should last longer. i do not chew rocks or ice cubes. what shortcuts may have been taken during the filling process that could account for these falures?
Well, I guess I’m proof that amalgam fillings can last for 40 years+. As a child, we were poor and I never went to the dentist. However, thanks to some good genes and flouridated water, I had pretty good teeth. After going off to college in 1972, I started to have some pain in my teeth. A lady I worked for told me to go to the dentist. Boy, was I scared! The dentist said my teeth were basically OK, but he had to fill 8 cavities that day! Never had any other problems (and never went back to the dentist) until the 1980’s when I had all my wisdom teeth out at once. After that, no more problems. I’ve started having sensitivity in my lower left teeth, and that’s why I’m looking at this website. I’m thinking it’s time to go back to the dentist. (by the way, the dentist who took out my wisdom teeth also praised my original dentist for the great work in did on my teeth) I’m hoping it’s just sinus problems! (And I’m in perfect health! No leeching of mercury in all those years!)
Hallo everybody! My dentist in Palermo, Italy, gave me a few amalgam fillings in 1993, and they are still as perfect as the first day they were implanted. Although I have been living in London for 11 years, and now in Norway, he is still my dentist, and the only one i trust.
I’m not a fan of these fillings. I had to have a good amount put in my mouth though I doubt it was necessary, I’ve avoided going to dentists because they seem to do a lot of un-needed work. As a matter of fact I had a filling that I got put in JAN 2012 and it fell out in MAY 2012 and I went back and had them fix it. It is now OCT 2012 and the same exact filling fell out. Just fell right out, I was walking through the kitchen and felt something in my mouth, i had not eaten anything that morning, and lo’ and behold, it was a filling. Further more, it is a filling I have in a tooth more towards the front, a visible tooth. If I lose this tooth I lose my career. Already made an appointment at a DIFFERENT dentist hoping that this time the filling stays in, but it should have never fell out in the first place. I’m also concerned as to WHY they put it in, the X-Ray’s on that tooth showed no decay and it was not giving me any problems. I suspect I have a needless hole they drilled and filled – and filled again, for no reason.
When I was a kid (12-13 years old? maybe even younger) I had 4 cavities all at once. Of those 4, one of them eventually was pulled and replaced by an implant (looooooong story there). One was replaced with a composite filling a couple years ago. The other two are still there, 30 years later. *knocks on wood*
I had an amalgam filling since I was 9. am now 24. but recently replaced it coz it broke. thou since I replaced I hv sme mild pain. and I chew with that side. because since I had the composite filling am unable to chew food.
I guess amalgam is the best choice. since I need all my molars done.
I will soon be 79 and have many of the silver fillings. I feel the success to the longevity is due to the Dentist’s qualities and capabilities. I have eight silver fillings over thirty years old as well as permanent bridge that is over 30 years. Many dentist say I am lucky, but at the same time say i had a good dentist. My research shows the silver are good for about 12 to 15 years while the new procedures are 7 to 10. Also the new fillings do not ward off bacteria like the silver. SO WHY THE CHANGE??? Plus the cost of the new procedures is rediculous. I will keep my old and pray a lot.
I have ten amalgam fillings that are at least 30 years old. I am 46 now and had most of my major dental and orthodontic work done between the ages of 6 and 13.
I have finally started having issues with some of them. I recently had molar #18 fracture and just had it restored with CEREC technology today. Pretty amazing advances have been made since I last spent time in the dentist’s chair! The filling on molar #3 has also started to shrink and crack and is getting sensitive so I think it will be up for repair next. I had no idea that amalgam fillings usually only last about half as long as mine have. I guess I have been fortunate.
Thanks for the interesting article and comments.
have, as another commenter states, “tons of amalgam fillings” from when I was 8 or 9…. I am over 50. I have one crown and a few fillings have been replaced when they broke, but most ar original. I am curious if the composition of the amalgam has changed over the years.
I just noticed tonight that one of my old silver fillings had fallen out, it was probably at least 15 year’s old if not older. My question is. I have a dentist appointment in exactly one week to replace some old fillings. Should my molar be fine for one week if there is no pain, even though i grind my teeth hard at night. Thanks and God bless.
Do I win an award? I will be 40 this spring and I got two silver fillings when I was 8. I haven’t had a cavity since, and only found this site b/c I was curious to when they would start to fail.
Hi Holly – I’d ask your dentist for an award next time you’re there 🙂 They could last many more years as long as you continue taking good care of them. Many people get cavities at a young age when they eat a lot of sugar, then as they get older they eat a more balanced diet and don’t seem to get any cavities at all.
My fillings were put in when I was 16 (1965). In 2009 one on the top right jaw
and 4 on the right lower jaw fell out. So, they were 44 years old!
Good job on taking care of them, Sharon! They won’t last that long unless you’re doing a good job taking care of your teeth.
My amalgams are 42 years old (no kidding) and deemed fine by my dentist, confirmed by X-rays. Another dentist wanted to replace them saying they were “porous”. Moral: Enable your scam-alert whenever you visit a new dentist and he recommends action!
Dentists are out for money! the more you pay the better you get! I had my fillings for more than 15 years and the dentist said he was going replace them, they started falling out months later! I have 2 front tooth implants in front for 25 years and one fell out. dentist replaced it and it fell out in 8 months! he said it will cost another 500 or more to replace and he cant reuse the same tooth! hey mr. dentist, its been over one year and I have been regluing the same front tooth to this day myself!!! shame on you taking advantage of peoples health and lives!! shame on you!!
My mouth is loaded with ugly, heavy, amalgams, but we will celebrate this coming summer, 40 years now, since the horrible School Dentists in my country (Denmark) ruined my teeth! After that experience I found a good dentist, who rescued my teeth, he´s dead now, sadly, but all other dentists I´ve consulted over the years remarks what an outstanding job he did. Lesson: Amalgam IS the best, if mixed properly, and made by a topnotch “old school” dentist. Sadly, they are hard to find these days.
Hi Dr. Tom,
I’ve had mine since the age of 12 or 13, so for about 13-14 years now. They are huge and the walls around them are pretty thin, on the x-rays they almost look like crowns. My dentist (not the one who put them in) almost insists that I should change them to onlays before the teeth start cracking around the fillings. I’m quite apprehensive because to me they seem just fine. They are in the back of my mouth so not really visible. Do you think I should change them onlays? What are the disadvantages and the advantages to changing my fillings to onlays?
my 18 plus year molar filling just popped out whiling flossing yesteday I got it in 1995 and its 2013 is there any way the dentist loosend it up a bit when she prognosed it to be half crowned 4 mths ago?
The expertise of the dentist is the most important factor in my opinion–I had 4 silver fillings when I was 12 years old; i’m 48 and they show no signs of wearing out. Hope my composite fillings have a reasonably long life.
I had all my fillings before I was 16. I haven’t had a cavity since then. This was 22 years ago. A doctor wanted to change them out. I told them NO WAY! If it not’s broken, why fix it???
I just turned 40 and Ive had my silver fillings for over 30 years. Never had any issues!
Well this thread seems to keep going.
I am 46, and have 10 amalgam fillings done, in Scotland, between the ages of 7 to 10 or so. So that makes 36 to 39 year. They have lasted well, sadly my dentist just told me that all 10 need to be redone, as chipped.
Hi David – Did you start going to a new dentist or did they all end up chipping relatively recently? Thanks for your comment!
Thank you for your good question. I have recently changed dentists my previous dentist mentioned that one or two of my fillings were showing some minor chips and would need to be replaced in a year or two. I moved location and sad to say did not visit a dentists for a few years. My new dentist condemned them all. So a matter of professional opinion?
I am somewhat reluctant to replace them as well they have held up for so long, and I am a little concerned about potential exposure to mercury during the extraction process? If I did replace them I will go with amalgam again as it seems the most durable option. Maybe see me through to the end 🙂
I am from India I had done amalgum filling 2.5 years back in three molars they are working fine
but I am always worried about future how long it will last.
one thing more I am missing my right side first molar down teeth from last 6 years and the same side I have amalgum filling from last 2.5 years total of three 2 upper and one in 2nd molar.now from last 15 days I am feeling pain in my wisdom tooth of left side got X ray done tooth are fine but pain is severe I am on medication now for this. During tooth examination dentist found that my left side 1st molar get a hole from above and side as well plz suggest which filling should I oupt for new filling.
I am only 28 years old software professional in India.
one problem in india is that here only few good dentist most of the time they suggest to remove the tooth completely.
should I go for crown or filling for the cavity newly formed in my molar from two sides?
In india fillings cost for amalgum only 10 dollar
waiting for your reply !!!!
Hi Doctor Draper, thanks for taking the time to make this great article. I have a filling that is 2-3 years old, and has gotten worn out a few months ago, with decay happening underneath; I am going back to the same dentist that made the initial filling, but I don’t know if that is a good idea, since my filling seems to have broken and let in decay after only 2-3 years, which possibly means my dentist didn’t do a very good job and I should perhaps find someone else who can do a better job this time around; how possible is it that a filling can let in decay after 2-3 years? Is it possible this isn’t my dentists inability and merely something that happened to the filling?
I had 4 amalgam fillings when I was a preteen. I am now 50. Today I am having the first filling re-done. My dentist says it does not need a crown. The 2nd will be done next week. The other two are still just fine. Interesting article!
I had a lot of dentistry done in the 1960s, and in those days most of my molars were drilled away leaving an egg- shell surround which was filled with amalgam. That is how dentistry was done then with the thinking – ‘get rid of as much tooth as possible as it could decay’. I have just had one of the molars crack under the amalgam and my dentist removed the old filling, sealed the crack and replaced it with a composite one. The old filling would have been around 50 years old.
I have had several crowns installed over old amalgam fillings. The biggest reason I think they failed is because we eat and drink so much hot and cold and it makes the teeth contract and expand. This causes the the teeth to eventually crack and fall apart. I had one drilled, the amalgam removed and refilled with composite and several others replaced with crowns. If only we had fluoride back when we were young, I think we would have not had as many cavities! Thanks for the informative article and all the info on your site!
I have amalgam fillings in all of my molars and bicuspids. Two decayed fillings were replaced seven years ago. The rest of them have been in my teeth for over 15 years.
I’m curious to see that white fillings are supposed to last a shorter time, compared to amalgam. I have only one filling, which is white. It was put in 21 years ago and has never given me any trouble.
I look after my teeth really well, floss every night and have strong fairly transparent enamel. To be honest, when the dentist told me I needed a filling 21 years ago, I nearly asked for a 2nd opinion, as I didn’t see why I would need one. I had no pain. I had gone because I was about to spend 6 months on a boat, so I agreed to the filling as I didn’t want to risk a tooth problem when help might be hard to find. And I was leaving in a week!
But I still wonder if I really needed it. The dentist had only just qualified, which also made me doubtful, but he did a great job with the filling, gave me a white one for no extra charge and the little white blob is still there minding its own business!
Do you think the fact it has lasted so long would indicate that there wasn’t any decay under it in the first place? It must have been a very tiny hole if there was one.
Thanks for the interesting blog
My amalgam fillings are at least 20 years old. They have not cracked, but the dentist just told me they are breaking down and need to be replaced. I have a tooth colored filling that is older than that and it just cracked off. Meanwhile I have a dozen small cavities that need to be filled. Yikes! I am going to have to rob a bank to get my teeth fixed.
I’ve had my metal fillings for almost 30 years (I have had 2 fall out this week so they will be replaced in a few days : ) I’m 46 and my last filling was at 19 in one of my wisdom teeth (that’s one that fell out yesterday) So i think that they last pretty well!
I had a filling placed in the back bottom tooth by the wisdom when I was probably 8 to 10 years old. I am 49 now and it just started hurting so I’m going to go get it replaced now. The filling had to be put in there because I chipped the crown on it. The other day in any type of liquid hot cold or even chewing food makes it hurt. my question is should I have them pull the whole tooth out or just redo the filling?
Back in the 1963 to 1968 timeframe I had Amalgam fillings in all my upper and lower molars. Only one cavity since then and had a white filling around 1996. I am 61 now and never thought about the fillings having a lifespan until today when one tooth filling has intermittantly become sensitive to pressure while chewing. Thus, they appear to last over 50 years with normal wear and tear. Trips to the dentist have just been for cleaning over the years and with 19 moves around the world that require a letter from a dentist indicating my teeth won’t be a problem in overseas locations I have ended up at, I was never informed that my fillings could be a problem because of their age.
I am 49 years old and have 11 amalgam fillings from when I was 9 and older. I have had one drilled partially and refilled with a white filling and last year one was drilled out and required a cap. One tooth is being watched closely. The other have all held strong and look great. It has recently been found that my copper level is 5 times what it should be. Does anyone have any idea if this could be related? There are other factors that could contribute to the high copper level, I’m just curious if this is one. Thanks
I had ten amalgam fillings that lasted 25 years, and just had them changed to composite due to amalgam illness. Stop putting mercury in your patients mouth, please!
Thank you for the info. I’ve recently had the need to re-do the amalgam filling in one of my back teeth, which leads me to researching on the web to learn more. My amalgam filling has been 18 years now, and it’s leaking. But I’m happy it’s lasted this long. Reading up the comparison between amalgam vs resin/composite fillings also leads me to decide to go with amalgam again even the dentist seems very eager to push for the use of composite fillings (which do not seem to be as strong and long-lasting, but which is more expensive), which I’m now inclined to think he just wants higher reimbursement from my insurer rather than for any real purpose.
Ive had my fillings for 30 years now…not one has fallen out!!…i have a few worries about it…i have skin Lichen Planus and the cause is unknown…ive read that one of the underlying cause may be due to the fillings…does anyone know about this??…if so, please feel free to reply…thank you in advance…
Are you still on here, Tom? 🙂
I received a few (like 6ish) silver fillings when I was around 8 (I’m 25 now). They are no problem at all, still going strong at the back of my mouth! However, I started seeing a new dentist (I moved, and haven’t seen a dentist in about 2-3 years), who says I have 2 cavities at the back of my mouth. He doesn’t do silver fillings, only white ones, and when I asked why not, he mentioned the mercury. I said “but it’s not enough to harm me, right?” and he just smiled and walked away. I’m supposed to get the white fillings in 2 days but after reading all this I think I want more silver ones…
Are you sill on the silver side for molars? Most dentists now don’t even do those apparently… I have bad anxiety when it comes to my health, and I really don’t want the fillings falling out every couple years (I don’t even know what that means, does the filling just pop right out randomly?), but I am also am nervous about ever having to get the silver ones replaced because of the exposure involved.
Are there any new alternatives? What do you suggest for 2015?
Im 47 years old and have 5-6 amalgam fillings that were done in my early teens. They are all still there and my dentist says that they are remarkably sound. That’s almost 35 years. I have a few white ones over ten years old to. Probably done on healthy teeth by unscrupulous 1970s dentist trying to keep busy
I had a filling put in one of my molars over 30 years ago while I was in head start. I’m 37 and it’s in good shape.
My #3 has an amalgam filling that is 20 years old. Seems to be doing fine.
I had an amalgam filling put in a left molar in 1977 when I was twelve. It was finally replaced in 2012, not because it had broken, but because decay had developed around it. 35 years is not too bad!
how can i protect my amalgam filling i just want to go and fill my 2 molar 2 and what will i eat or stay of too make my amalgam filling stay last
I am 52 now and have had amalgam fillings since about 11 years of age. The fillings are fine and strong, but the enamel around them is breaking away leaving on the silver amalgam. There is no pain except for a sharp jagged edge of one of the fillings … is this a problem?
It is a normal phenomenon, amalgam expands slowly, giving an impression of its being extruded. You just need to polsh them again.
I had 1 amalgam filing when i was 9 years old. 2 fillings when i was 14. I am now 49. Have never had any problems with these fillings. I cannot remember having gone to a dentist in over 20 years.
I had amalgam filling in all my front teeth in1965, I am now 83 yrs old, went to dentist yesterday still all good.
I have 6 silver amalgam fillings that were placed in 1966, making them 50 years old. I was 10 when I got them and they made me extremely ill. I know that I was severely malnourished because my family had low income and many children. I attribute the extreme reaction to the mercury and other heavy metals being released to being nutritionally deficient.
Five very extreme symptoms I experienced:
1) Insomnia – where I had always gone to bed by 9 and immediately to sleep, I became a night owl for all the rest of my life until recently when apparently enough heavy metals have been detoxed that I sometimes can go to bed earlier now. I do not do well if I get up early no matter what time I go to bed.
2) Severe headaches / toothaches / ear aches for weeks after getting the fillings. I remember my Mother pouring warm oil into my ears and me heating wash clothes in front of a space heater to lay on my face trying to get relief. It would take 4 aspirin to take the edge off the pain. These periodically come back, especially since I started detoxing by going fully organic.
3) I immediately could not stand the cold at all. Girls could not wear pants to school back then; my Father bought me thigh-high thick socks and I begged the teachers to not force me to go outside for recess. I dressed like Nanook of the North my entire life even though I lived in the far south. Anything under 60 degrees made me miserable no matter how many layers I wore: long underwear, flannel shirts and flannel lined jeans; wool sweaters topped with ski-jumpsuits or leg warmers; a down jacket; 2 pairs of socks (1 cotton; 1 wool), 2 scarves and 2 wool hats.
4) Severe gingivitis and recessed gums from immediately after having the fillings placed until today.
5) Immediate hearing loss that progressed to very loud Tinnitus, especially on the left (4 fillings) vs the right (2 fillings – thank goodness they stopped at 6)! Do not complain about Tinnitus because when it stops you are totally deaf in that ear. I lost the hearing on that side, but it is gradually returning as the Tinnitus gets louder and louder.
In the past few years, I realized the cold doesn’t bother me nearly as much anymore. This happened about the same time I could start falling asleep earlier (although I typically have to leave something playing to drown out the Tinnitus in order to fall asleep). I attribute this to a diet of 100% organic and grass-fed only – no packaged foods and no fluoridated water or toothpaste or anything else.
It is known that when you body lacks nutrients it can take up heavy metals where someone with better levels of nutrition would not. Unfortunately, in spite of most Americans having enough to eat, the food is not very nutritious because of depleted soils and most people eating packaged, pasteurized, over-processed foods instead of whole foods.
Personally, I believe that health including dental health, is reliant upon nutrition. In many third-world countries, people do not have the dental or health issues we have here until they adopt our diet and then they get just as unhealthy and their children have all the same issues with cavities and insufficient space for teeth / overcrowding and crooked teeth. These issues are manmade and we would all be better off avoiding treatments for symptoms and focusing on fixing the causes.
I’ve had my metal fillings for almost 30 years (I have had 2 fall out this week so they will be replaced in a few days : ) I’m 46 and my last filling was at 19 in one of my wisdom teeth (that’s one that fell out yesterday) So i think that they last pretty well!
I’m 50 years old. About 4 to 6 years ago my dentist removed all my old filling and replaced them with this white composite stuff. My old fillings lasted between 20 to 30 years and didn’t bother me. Ever since he replaced them they have been sensitive which I never used to have that problem before. Now I can feel them coming apart with my tongue. What should i do? I don’t understand how this is acceptable for a dentist to just remove on his own accord. My wife goes to a different dentist and her dentist did the same thing. Is this a common practice?
My amalgam fillings have lasted over 35 years and show no sign of quitting. They are all on the crowns of my back molars and I’m a chomper.
I came to this site because for the first time in over 35 years, I have a new cavity and wanted to weigh my options. Gold is too expensive and not my style, and resin doesn’t last very long so I am looking towards amalgam. However….what about mercury? I heard amalgam fillings contain mercury and are toxic. Any info on this?
Mine (all molars) are 45 years old, and I’ve had no problems and no replacements. Probably on borrowed time, but so far so good. I am dilligent with brushing and flossing and overall taking care of my teeth
Can amalgam fillings cause health problems?l have 4 teeth with amalgam fillings.
I turned 40 today. I have 6 amalgam fillings, all done before age 17. So they are 25+ years old. No issues and no cavities since. I have a new dentist who wants to replace them with composite all saying they cause teeth to crack. Now I’m worried!!!?? I’ve read they expand with age? And act like a wedge and hurt your teeth in throng run? I do love how
Mine (all molars) are 45 years old, and I’ve had no problems and no replacements.
I just left the dentist and she recommended replacing my amalgam filling because I had developed tiny hairline cracks on the tooth. I was a bit skeptical at first but after doing a bit of research this seems pretty common.
btw my amalgams are over 45 years old
But do the replacements only last a few years??
i have had my amalgan fillings for 40 years still no problems wearing great. got them when i was 12 by a dentist in lyons ks dont know his name but he evidently did very good work.
Im 72 and had amalgam fillings done on 4 molars at the same time when I was about 10 yrs old. 3 of the 4 molars have had to be pulled and the last one the other day a couple of pieces broke in the front which exposes the filling. There is no pain but I think the rest of the tooth in front might be cracked. Do you think I will have to have the tooth pulled or can it be saved?
I have fillings that lasted close to 40 years myself. I am therefore very lucky indeed. They are due to luck, but also good hygiene and excellent dentists.
I have half a dozen amalgam fillings and everyone of them is at least 40 years old. I got them mostly in my early mid 20’s and I’m in my 60s. Apparently, this is some kind of record. My dentist wants to replace them but at this point with no problems I ask ‘what is the point’.