Most people are familiar with fillings and probably have at least one or two. Among the different materials used for fillings, each with their own advantages and disadvantages, porcelain fillings often receive the highest praise, simply because of their longevity. But what my patients really want to know is how long do they actually last?
A porcelain filling is made either in the dental laboratory or with computer-aided design software that allows the dentist to shape a material that is very strong, aesthetically appealing and long lasting. On average a porcelain filling can last anywhere from 15 to 20 years but, with advancements in materials, it is becoming more common to have a porcelain restoration far exceed this estimate.
The longevity, strength and aesthetics of porcelain filling are the qualities that distinguish them from other types of restorations and why we dentists recommend them. Admittedly, they are far more expensive than the alternatives, costing between $1500 and $2500. The alternatives are either an amalgam filling or composite filling, which cost from $400 to $600 but have a life expectancy of only 5 to 10 years.
Every time a tooth or filling fractures or is subject to active disease, this creates a potential for catastrophic failure, which can require removal of the tooth. To restore a missing tooth requires either an implant at a cost of $6500 to $8000, depending on bone adequacy; or a bridge ($6500 to $7000); or denture ($1500 to $2500). Therefore, when we dentists recommend a porcelain restoration (either a crown, an inlay or an onlay) we are trying to give you, the patient, the most appropriate long-term solution and hence prevent catastrophic failure, which can be painful, time consuming and costly.