Questions and Answers About the Dental Filling Process
A dental filling is a form of restoration which repairs damage caused by tooth decay. Unlike a root canal procedure that requires two or more dental visits, having a cavity filled only takes one. Fillings are made of different types of materials including tooth-colored composite resins or porcelain. Each material has its pros and cons, but your dentist will recommend the most appropriate option.
Dental filling process
The dental filling process may vary depending on the type of filling. A local anesthetic is usually used to numb the area around the tooth to be filled. The dentist will remove the decayed area and then clean debris and bacteria out of the cavity. After the filling is in, the dentist will finish and polish it. After the procedure, there are some things people should and should not do that can extend the life of fillings. There are also some situations when a provider should be consulted.
Do fillings hurt?
Most times, the dentist will administer a local anesthetic to prevent any pain. The injection itself can be slightly painful, and the patient may feel a pinching or stinging sensation for a few seconds. But dentists can use a numbing gel on the gum to reduce this discomfort. An anesthetic may not be needed in cases where the decay is only on the surface of the tooth.
How long does filling teeth take?
The time needed for filling cavities depends on several factors. These include the location and size of the filling or the materials used. Usually, a filling takes between 20 minutes and an hour in total. Depending on the filling material used for the dental filling, it could take more time, or require a second visit.
How long does it take to heal?
Most fillings heal in a short period with no problem. Once the anesthesia wears off, it is normal for the tooth to feel a little sensitive, but most times this goes away in a day or two. Some fillings, like gold and amalgam, usually have a period of post-op cold sensitivity for a couple of days or even weeks. But there are several ways to reduce tooth sensitivity.
Patients can benefit from chewing on the other side of the mouth for a few days. Dentists often recommend brushing and flossing more gently than usual around the filling and using desensitizing toothpaste. Patients should also avoid hot or cold foods or drinks or acidic foods. Taking a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) can also help.
When to see a dentist
After the procedure, there are some side effects that can occur after the anesthesia wears off. Some individuals often experience numbness, tingling, and some minor pain around the injection site. Many times, these side effects subside within a few hours of the procedure. Sensitivity is common and should decrease in a few days or weeks.
Until then, it is advisable to avoid anything that causes it. Contact your dentist if you have any long-lasting pain or sensitivity. If your tooth hurts after a dental filling procedure, there may be a problem that your dentist needs to address. If it is painful when you bite, the filling may have been placed too high and will have to be polished down a little more to decrease the pain.
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