How Do Dentists Fill Cavities?

Going to the dentist for a simple clean or checkup usually isn’t a big deal. However, hearing that you have a cavity can fill many patients with dread. What if the procedure for fixing it is painful? Is there anything that can go wrong?

The truth is that dentists are trained professionals that have many years of experience and expertise, so you don’t need to worry. Plus, dentists make it their mission to make patients as comfortable as possible.

Of course, it still helps to know what to expect before the cavity-filling appointment. That way, you can mentally prepare.

What Are Cavities?

Cavities are holes in the teeth that occur after bacteria has destroyed and damaged a tooth. Big ones are easy for people to notice, but you can also get tiny cavities you may not notice until you go to the dentist.

Upon learning that you have a cavity, you must get it fixed as soon as possible. Otherwise, tooth decay will only worsen and potentially lead to the necessity of a tooth extraction. Fortunately, seeing a dentist for a filling will prevent this from happening.

The Different Types of Fillings

A decision you must make before getting the cavity filled is what type of filling you will have. There are several to choose from, including:

Composite fillings

Composite fillings are popular because they are barely noticeable. That’s because patients can choose a tooth-colored composite based on their tooth color.

Ceramic fillings

Like composite fillings, ceramic fillings are also popular due to their desirable aesthetics. However, they can be costly.

Gold fillings

Gold isn’t just for jewelry. With a gold filling, you can expect strength and durability and for the filling to last fifteen years.

Metal fillings

Metal fillings were more popular in the past. While they are strong, they are also quite noticeable, which is why so many patients opt for a more aesthetically pleasing option.

Silver amalgam fillings

Silver amalgam fillings are strong and long-lasting. They have some downsides, though: they are pretty noticeable, and the material has been known to expand, leading to tooth cracks. Although this is rare, the fact that it could happen may turn people off this option.

Glass ionomer fillings

Glass ionomer fillings only last around five years, making them far more popular for children than adults. This type of filling has the bonus of releasing fluoride while intact to prevent further tooth decay.

The filling material a patient gets depends on what they want. For example, they may want a composite material to match the color of their teeth, or they might be more concerned with a solid and long-lasting filling.

How Dentists Fill Cavities

So, how do dentists fill cavities? If you’re preparing for your appointment, here is what to expect from the dental filling procedure.

1: Initial Appointment

The initial appointment will usually involve the dentist looking at the damaged tooth and deciding where to go from there. They might do the filling the same day or book you in for an upcoming appointment.

2: Local Anesthetic

At your filling appointment, the dentist will numb the area with a local anesthetic before anything else. Doing this is important, as it numbs the pain and discomfort of the procedure.

3: Remove Tooth Decay

Next, the dentist will remove the decay from the tooth with a drill. Don’t worry; thanks to the local anesthetic, this part won’t be painful. It will, however, ensure that the bacteria do not spread once the filling has been put in.

4: Placing the Filling

After removing all the decay, the dentist will place the filling in the right part of the tooth. The filling should fit perfectly into it and cause no discomfort at all.

What to Expect After Getting a Filled Cavity

Straight after the filling procedure, expect to feel a numbing sensation for the rest of the day. That will soon pass. Following that, your dentist may recommend you avoid sticky or chewy foods for a couple of weeks. This is to ensure the filling fully sets and doesn’t come loose.

You might also experience increased sensitivity around the tooth after the procedure. It is generally nothing to worry about, and your dentist will likely recommend sensitive toothpaste. After some time, the sensitivity should dissipate.

Of course, go back to the dentist if you experience issues out of the ordinary. For example, if you have lots of pain or the filling falls out, schedule an appointment as soon as possible. In some cases, you might need the filling replaced.

Top Tips for Preventing Cavities

Most people get a cavity filling at one point in their life. It is still best to avoid them, however, as they cause damage to your teeth and gums. To avoid sitting in the dentist’s chair too often, follow these oral hygiene tips.

Brush Thoroughly Twice Daily

You likely already know that you must brush your teeth at least twice daily. Are you doing it properly, though? To thoroughly brush your teeth, take your time while brushing each tooth in a circular motion. Consider using an electric toothbrush, too, as they clean deeper than ordinary toothbrushes.

Avoid Too Much Sugar or Acid

Sugary and acidic foods are the two major culprits for cavities. To keep your teeth healthy, avoid foods high in acidity or sugar.


Flossing every day is essential for healthy gums and teeth. Do it at night to prevent the build-up of plaque.

Do Not Smoke

Smoking is terrible for your oral hygiene and health. To prevent cavities and keep your teeth sparkling white, avoid cigarettes altogether.

Visit the Dentist Regularly

Even if you practice great oral hygiene at home, it’s still important to visit the dentist regularly. Here at BAFdentistry, we offer plenty of dentist services to ensure your teeth and gums stay healthy. On top of all the typical treatments like checkups and cleaning services, we also offer dental implants, bleaching trays, crowns, and more.