What to Know About Cavity Fillings and the Procedure

By: Spirit Dental
August 24, 2021

cool girl with headphones on the beach researching cavities

A cavity is probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the most common dental problems, right? Most people will end up with at least one cavity in their life. And, sometimes, patients don’t even know they have cavities until their dentist tells them!

If you’ve been diagnosed with a cavity and it’s the first time you’ll be getting a filling, you might be nervous. That’s totally normal! But the good news is that this procedure isn’t complicated and doesn’t take much time. Keep reading to learn about cavity fillings and the procedure that your dentist will use to restore your pearly whites. 

What are the different types of cavity fillings?

There’s more than one type of filling your dentist can use to fix a cavity. The two most well-known are amalgam and composite, but other filling materials include ceramic, gold, and glass ionomer.  

You can discuss the benefits and drawbacks of each option to pick the one that’s best for you. For instance, because of the way they look, amalgam fillings are also known as silver fillings, but they’re actually made of several materials, including mercury, silver, copper, and tin. These fillings might last a long time, and they’re usually more affordable than other options. On the other hand, composite fillings, which are made of resin and glass, won’t be noticeable because your dentist will match the color of the filling to the rest of the tooth. However, they typically don’t last as long as amalgam, and they’ll likely be pricier. 

What can you expect during a cavity filling procedure?

Cavity fillings can be done in just a few steps, and it might take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, depending on factors like the tooth that’s being worked on, the type of filling that’s used, and the size of the cavity. 

Your dentist can ensure you won’t feel any pain by using a local anesthetic that will completely numb the area of your mouth that’s being worked on. Plus, if you’re really anxious, you can also ask your dentist about sedation options

Here are the basic steps involved in filling a cavity:

  1. After numbing the gums with a special gel and injecting a local anesthetic into the gums, your dentist will ensure you don’t feel any sensation before using tools, such as a drill, to remove all of the decay from the tooth.

  2. Once all of the decay has been cleared away, the dentist will apply the filling. If you’re getting a composite filling, it may take a bit longer than amalgam because of the extra step of hardening the filling using a special light.

  3. Once the filling is in place, your dentist will make adjustments and polish it to be sure it fits comfortably and doesn’t affect your bite. 

What happens after a cavity filling procedure?

The anesthetic that was used to numb your mouth will gradually wear off after the procedure is complete. Then, you might feel totally fine or you might experience sensitivity or soreness, which might last a few days. Let your dentist know about your symptoms to be sure they’re normal. If necessary, they might recommend taking a pain relieving medication. 

Your dentist will also give you any instructions you need to properly care for your teeth after a filling. For example, you might be told to avoid chewing on the side of the mouth that was worked on for a certain period of time, or you might need to avoid certain types of foods and drinks. 

If you experience pain after a filling or you develop other symptoms, such as fever, swelling, red gums, or extreme sensitivity, let your dentist know. Also, if discomfort persists after a filling, it might need to be adjusted further to make it fit better or there might be another problem that needs to be addressed. So, don’t be reluctant to contact your dentist!

Note: Fillings don’t last forever. Unfortunately, they usually need to be replaced after several years. In addition to general wear that occurs over time, if decay develops in the same tooth again or if the filling is damaged in some way, it will need to be replaced. 

Dental insurance can help make fillings more affordable!

Taking awesome care of your teeth is the best way to avoid needing a filling in the first place. Brush and floss daily, and go for checkups at the dentist’s office to find out if you have any cavities, even if you aren’t experiencing any symptoms. 

The right dental insurance can help you afford trips to the dentist to have your chompers checked for decay and catch problems in their earliest stages. Plus, this insurance can also help cover the cost of fillings. Check out the many options available from Spirit to find the plan that’s right for you!










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