A filling is a dental procedure that is done to restore a tooth damaged by decay back to its normal function and shape. This prevents the decay from spreading further into your tooth and, eventually, stops the need for a Root Canal Treatment. If decay or a fracture has damaged a large portion of the tooth, a crown, or cap, may be recommended.
Being most commonly used to treat cavities, dental filling procedures are also used to repair cracked, broken or worn teeth.
The process of filling a tooth starts most likely with an examination from the dentist and an x-ray of the affected tooth to determine the extent of the decay. A topical anesthetic will numb the area of treatment so you won’t feel any discomfort.
Then, the dentist will remove the decayed area of the affected tooth.
After removing the decay, the tooth is cleaned and filled with a resistant material that will strengthen the tooth and prevent leakage.
After your tooth is rebuilt, your bite is checked to make sure your teeth align comfortably. The procedure may take, on average, from 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending of the size of your decay.
Once you’re done, your mouth will probably remain numb for a few more hours. The numbness will wear off naturally. However, while you’re still numb, try not to eat or drink as you may hurt yourself by biting your cheeks or tongue without feeling it.
You also may experience some sensitivity after receiving a tooth filling, but this discomfort should subside. If the sensitivity keeps bothering you or if you still feel pain that doesn’t go away, tell your dentist as soon as possible and a check-up will be done.
When to replace a cavity filling
A filling lasts for many years before it needs a replacement. Yet, tooth fillings can wear out faster, especially if you clench or grind your teeth.
If you notice signs of wear, such as cracks or worn areas, or even discoloration, have your dentist check it as you may need to replace the filling soon.
Continuing to chew with a damaged filling can cause your tooth to crack, which will make the restoration more complicated and more expensive.