What is the Process of Getting a Tooth Filling?

Dental Filling Procedure​​​​​​​
  • By Courthouse Art of Dentistry
  • August 3, 2023
  • A tooth filling, as the name suggests, is a dental treatment used to restore the function and morphology of a missing tooth structure, which could have been a result of decay or external trauma. Fillings are also used to prevent further decay by closing off spaces where bacteria can enter.


    Today, the process of getting a tooth filling is relatively straightforward and painless, thanks to advancements in dental technologies and procedures. However, it's important to have a clear understanding of what the process entails so that you can be prepared and ensure your recovery goes smoothly.



    Step by Step Dental Filling Procedure


    The step by step dental filling procedure begins with an initial consultation, where your dentist will examine your teeth and identify any cavities that need to be filled. They may use a small mirror to inspect the surfaces of your teeth, look for signs of decay, and check the health of your gums.


    Next, the area around the affected tooth will be numbed with a local anesthetic to ensure you feel no pain during the procedure. Once the area is numb, the dentist will use a drill, air abrasion instrument, or laser to remove the decayed area. The choice of instrument depends on the extent of the decay, the cost of the treatment, and the dentist's comfort level with the various equipment.


    Once the decay has been removed, your dentist will prepare the space for the filling by cleaning the cavity of bacteria and debris. If the decay was near the root, your dentist might first put in a liner made of glass ionomer, composite resin, or other material to protect the nerve. Once the filling is in place, your dentist will finish and polish it.


    Types of Tooth Fillings


    As mentioned earlier, there are several types of tooth fillings available, and the choice depends on the extent of the decay, the cost of the filling, and the dentist's recommendation.


    Amalgam fillings, often called silver fillings, are made from a mixture of metals. They are strong and durable, making them a good choice for fillings in the back of the mouth where chewing pressure is greatest.


    Composite fillings are made from a resin that matches the color of your teeth. They are less noticeable than amalgam fillings, but they aren't as durable and might not be the best choice for large fillings.


    Gold fillings are made to order in a laboratory and then cemented into place. They are often the most expensive choice, but they are also the longest-lasting.


    Porcelain fillings, also called inlays or onlays, are made to order in a lab and then bonded to the tooth. They can be matched to the color of the tooth and resist staining.



    What to Expect During a Tooth Filling Procedure


    Many people worry about pain during a tooth filling procedure, but there's usually little to no discomfort involved. Thanks to numbing anesthetics and modern dental technologies, the process is typically quick and painless.


    You might feel some pressure or vibration as the dentist removes the decay and prepares the tooth for the filling, but it shouldn't be painful. If you do feel any pain during the procedure, it's important to let your dentist know immediately so they can adjust your anesthetic or take other steps to make you more comfortable.


    After the procedure, you might have some sensitivity in the filled tooth, but this should subside within a few days. If the sensitivity persists or if you experience any pain, contact your dentist right away.



    Post-Procedure Care and Recovery


    After getting a tooth filling, your mouth will likely remain numb for a few hours. During this time, it's important to avoid eating anything hard or hot, as you could accidentally bite your cheek or tongue. Once the numbness wears off, you can resume normal activities and eating habits.


    In the days following the procedure, you may notice some sensitivity in the filled tooth, especially to hot or cold foods. This is normal and should go away on its own within a week or two. If it persists, contact your dentist.


    Caring for a filled tooth is the same as caring for your other teeth. Continue to brush twice a day, floss daily, and schedule regular dental check-ups.



    The Importance of Regular Dental Check-Ups


    Regular dental check-ups are crucial to maintaining good oral health. Even with proper brushing and flossing at home, plaque can still accumulate and harden into tartar, which can only be removed by a dental professional.


    During a routine check-up, your dentist will not only clean your teeth but also check for signs of decay and other potential issues. If any problems are detected early, the treatment is likely to be simpler and more affordable.


    Remember, prevention is always better than cure. So, do not wait until you have a toothache before you see your dentist. Regular dental visits can help spot problems early and keep your teeth and gums healthy.





    Getting a tooth filling is a common, straightforward procedure that can help prevent further tooth decay and maintain the health of your smile. Understanding the process, knowing what to expect, and practicing good oral hygiene post-procedure can help ensure a smooth recovery and long-lasting results. Remember, regular dental check-ups are key to preventing decay and catching any potential issues early. Keep up with your dental visits and take good care of your teeth.