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How long do posterior composite fillings typically last?

Over 13 years on average in this study! Only 16% failed , but watch out for molars, multiple surfaces, and prior treatments. 

Have you ever wondered how long your posterior composite restorations last? In the largest US study to date, Dr. Thankam Thyvalikakath and colleagues analyzed over 700,000 posterior composite restoration placed in 200,000 patients across 99 Network dental practices. The findings from this Electronic Dental Records (EDR) analysis have been recently published in the Journal of Dentistry 

Key questions: 

  • How long do posterior composite fillings typically last? 
  • Which factors influence their lifespan? 
  • Is there a difference in durability based on patient characteristics, tooth location, or practice location? 


  • Electronic Dental Records (EDR) data from 99 dental practices across the US, members of the National Dental PBRN. 
  • Analyzed over 700,000 posterior composite restorations placed in 200,000 patients. 


  • Posterior composite fillings last over 13 years on average! (median survival time) 
  • Only 16% of fillings fail over time, most within the first 5 years. 

Risk factors: 

  • More surfaces filled = shorter lifespan (3+ surfaces = shortest) 
  • Fillings on molars and previously treated teeth are more likely to fail. 
  • Endodontic treatment before a filling significantly reduces its lifespan. 

Patient factors: 

  • Older patients (65+) have the shortest filling lifespan. 
  • Pediatric patients and those aged 45-64 come next. 
  • Insurance and sex don’t affect filling lifespan. 

Study strengths: 

  • Largest US study on real-world dental practice data (700,000+ fillings). 
  • Includes patients with and without insurance, across diverse regions. 


Call to action to dental researchers:  

  • Refine risk prediction models: Utilize these rich data to develop personalized estimates for filling longevity. 
  • Explore material advancements: Investigate new composite formulations for enhanced durability and wider applicability. 
  • Bridge the research-practice gap: Translate findings into practical recommendations for dentists to improve patient outcomes. 

Call to action to dental providers:  

  • Optimize placement: Most composites will last a long time. Prioritize single-surface fillings and consider alternative materials for complex cases. 
  • Emphasize prevention: Regular checkups, caries control, and patient education are key to extended filling life. 
  • Track your data: Monitor individual and practice-level filling success to identify areas for improvement. To learn from your data, don’t forget to record reasons for failures at least in the clinical notes.  


This text was generated by a large language model (Bard, Google AI) in response to a prompt to summarize the manuscript with bullet points and a call to action for dentists and researchers and edited for style and content by Joana Cunha-Cruz on January 23, 2024, and revised by the two authors of the manuscript. 

Learn more about this study:  

Thyvalikakath T, Siddiqui ZA, Eckert G, LaPradd M, Duncan WD, Gordan VV, Rindal DB, Jurkovich M, Gilbert GH. Survival analysis of posterior composite restorations in National Dental PBRN general dentistry practices. J Dent. 2024 Jan 7;141:104831. doi: 10.1016/j.jdent.2024.104831. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 38190879. 

Study protocol and other publications available in our website. 

If you are interested in participating, contact us!

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