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  • Writer's pictureDr. Llewelyn A. Paras

Does Cavity Filling Hurt?

If you have a cavity, you’ll likely need to book a trip to the dentist soon. It’s important to have a cavity treated before it worsens. Your dentist can help remove the decayed areas of your tooth and bring your smile back.

You may wonder if filling a cavity hurts—some patients even avoid the dentist because of that fear—but your experience can vary. Learning more about how fillings work can help you prepare for any future cavity fillings you may need.

Possible Discomfort, Depending on Several Factors

It’s important to note that fillings typically do not hurt, but you may find the procedure uncomfortable. Many patients worry that a cavity filling will cause pain.

In reality, whether or not a cavity filling causes pain can depend on several factors, such as your dentist’s tools, the size and depth of a cavity, the number of cavities, and the location of a cavity.

These factors can affect your experience during a cavity filling in the following ways:

  • Dentist tools: During a filling, your dentist may use a drill to remove the decay in your tooth. Numbing anesthetic can be used to reduce the sensations a drill causes, but laser dentistry is also an alternative many people prefer because it can help treat cavities without the need for anesthetic and drills and with minimal sensations.

  • Size and depth: Small cavities can be easier to treat, so you may not feel anything during treatment. Cavities deeper in the tooth may cause more discomfort during treatment.

  • The number of cavities: Having several cavities may mean your dentist fills them all in 1 session. After that procedure, your jaw may hurt from keeping your mouth open for long periods, and you may notice additional discomfort.

  • Location: Cavities can form on a tooth’s surface, sides, or roots. If you have a severe cavity, you may feel more discomfort if your roots are exposed.

Don’t avoid the dentist if you’re worried about pain during a cavity filling—untreated tooth decay can hurt much more, and there are options for helping you get the dental care you need while reducing the effects of discomfort and dental anxiety.

A female patient lying on a dental chair with her mouth open as her dentist prepares her teeth for a cavity filling.

What Is a Cavity Filling?

A cavity filling is a treatment that can help restore a tooth to its original function.

A cavity is also called tooth decay, which occurs when plaque forms on your teeth and bacteria slowly eat away at your enamel, the protective outer layer of your tooth. When bacteria enter the tooth, it can lead to further complications, like an abscessed tooth.

During treatment, your dentist can remove the decayed areas of a tooth and restore the tooth with a filling, helping you smile and chew without discomfort caused by cavities.

Types of Fillings

There are several options when it comes to fillings. Each has different benefits, and your dentist may ask if you have a preferred material for your treatment.

Filling materials include metal and tooth-coloured fillings like gold and porcelain. The relative benefits and drawbacks of each include the following:

  • Porcelain fillings have a natural look and are long-lasting but not as durable as metal fillings.

  • Composite resin fillings have a natural look and are generally affordable but not as long-lasting.

  • Dental amalgam fillings are long-lasting but not a natural colour.

  • Cast gold fillings are strong and durable but more expensive.

What Happens During a Cavity Filling?

Filling a cavity typically doesn’t take too long, depending on several factors. For example, your dentist may fill several cavities in a single appointment if you have more than 1.

During an appointment for a filling, your dentist removes the decayed areas of your tooth before filling it with a chosen material, whether it’s an amalgam, composite resin, or another material.

Filling a cavity typically involves several steps, including:

  • Numbing the gums through a gel, then injecting an anesthetic to help prevent discomfort (if necessary).

  • Drilling the tooth to remove decayed areas.

  • Filling the tooth with the chosen filling.

  • Polishing and adjusting the filling to match your normal bite.

Depending on the type of tools used for the filling, you may not need an injection to numb the treatment area. Laser dentistry can help treat cavities without the need for anesthesia and drills. To provide an ideal experience for your filling, your dentist will determine whether laser dentistry is an option for you and if they need to numb the treatment area before your filling.

Don’t Forget to Protect Your Teeth

While a filling can help treat a cavity, it isn’t a substitute for proper dental hygiene. You may end up needing a filling again if you don’t take care of your teeth.

Ensure you’re brushing and flossing your teeth twice daily to help remove plaque and prevent cavities. In addition to brushing and flossing, it’s important to book regular dental exams and cleanings to help remove tartar and identify potential issues that may need treatment.

Don’t Let a Cavity Worsen

Tooth decay isn’t something you should wait to address—it can damage your teeth more the longer you wait. Your dentist is here to help repair and fill your teeth to help you prevent future damage.

Contact Dental Haus if you’re experiencing symptoms of a cavity. We can help you determine which treatment is right for you and answer all your questions about what to expect.

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