Cavity feels like a bad word when it comes to your oral health. When you go to your dentist for your regular exam and cleaning, hearing that you have a cavity is never a pleasant surprise. Having a cavity filled is a relatively easy way to repair the formation of a cavity and halt the escalation of tooth decay. Understanding the process can go a long way toward preventing the anxiety that many people have when it comes to visiting their dentist. At Oral Health Center, we offer an array of services that are designed to improve your oral health and optimize the appearance of your smile. Having a cavity is painful, but having your cavity filled doesn’t have to be.
Will it Hurt to Have a Cavity Filled?
The possibility of pain is one of the main reasons that many people fear going to the dentist, so wondering if having a cavity filled will hurt is incredibly common. The process is focused around making it as easy and comfortable as possible for the patient. A local anesthetic is applied to the area, so it is a pain free process. In addition, steps are taken to make the application of the anesthetic as pain free as possible through the use of numbing gel before the shot is injected.
It is important to keep in mind that there can certainly be soreness and discomfort after any dental procedure. Having a cavity filled involves drilling into the tooth to remove the decay, which can irritate the nerve of the tooth. This can cause the tooth to be sensitive for a few days following the cavity filling. You may want to avoid consuming hot or cold foods until this sensitivity has subsided. In addition, fatigue of the jaw muscles is incredibly common, due to the prolonged period of time where the mouth remains open. Remember that cavity fillings are intended to relieve the pain that already comes from having a cavity. It is also important to consider that having a cavity filled early on, rather than procrastinating, will result in a less painful procedure- both for you and your wallet.
The Process of Having a Cavity Filled
Having a cavity filled is a relatively easy, simple process. The first step is the application of the local anesthetic. This is often preceded by numbing gel to minimize any discomfort during the application process. After the dentist has confirmed that the area is numb, they will use a drill to remove the decayed area of the tooth. After this, bacteria and any resulting debris will need to be cleared from the cavity area. The filling is then placed. By sealing off the area where bacteria may enter, the dentist can prevent decay from escalating, which goes a long way toward both protecting the affected tooth and the surrounding teeth. Dental fillings can even help to improve your bite. Following the filling placement, the dentist will likely polish the tooth and ensure that it effectively matches the surrounding teeth.
How Long Do Cavity Fillings Generally Last?
Just like how chewing surfaces of teeth wear down, so too will cavity fillings. It is important to have your cavity fillings replaced when they begin to show signs of wear in order to effectively protect your teeth. The amount of time that your cavity fillings will last depends primarily on the material used in the filling, as well as the amount of care that you put into your cavity fillings. Amalgam fillings are the commonly used silver fillings and they generally last 10-15 years. Gold fillings are far less common, due to their extreme cost, but they often last from 15-30 years.
Ceramic fillings are most commonly used for the front teeth due to their natural appearance, and they generally last for 15 years. Composite fillings are less expensive options for a natural appearance, but they tend to only last 5-7 years. Glass ionomer fillings are rarely used because they tend to last fewer than 5 years, though they can be particularly useful for the developing teeth of children.
How Long it Takes to Complete the Cavity Filling Process
The amount of time that it takes to complete the cavity filling process may depend on an array of factors. The type of filling may slightly change the process of having a cavity filled, which may also impact the total amount of time. For example, composite fillings tend to take longer than amalgam fillings. However, in most situations, a cavity filling will take less than an hour. This includes the time spent taking x-rays and communicating with the dentist about any concerns about the process. Keep in mind that the anesthesia tends to last for several hours following the procedure, so ensure that your schedule can compensate for this. It will be safe to drive following a local anesthetic, but you may want to avoid consuming hot foods to avoid injury.
Contact Us Today
It is vital to take the steps necessary to prevent cavities from forming in the first place. Keep in mind that dental insurance is often designed for a preventative approach, which means that it is far more likely to cover dental cleanings than escalated oral health issues that could have been prevented. Make sure that you follow all of your dentist’s instructions and visit them on a regular basis. A dental cleaning can help to remove tartar and stains from the surface of your teeth, as well as catch potential issues in the early stages.
Floss your teeth on a daily basis and ensure that you brush your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes at a time. Additionally, have a cavity filled as soon as possible. Failure to do so may result in an escalation of the tooth decay, which can lead to the necessity of a root canal, or even a tooth extraction. Regularly visiting your dentist is the best way to protect the health of your teeth. To schedule your dental visit with us, or to learn more about the process of having a cavity filled, contact our experts at Oral Health Center today!