A tooth filling isn’t something that people look forward to getting. Unfortunately, it’s a necessity as a result of tooth decay. In fact, it’s one of the most common dental procedures received by patients of all ages. Despite the fear often associated with dental care, a tooth filling isn’t painful. The use of local anesthetics is what makes many dental procedures pain-free. Take a look at the information below regarding the timeline for getting a tooth filling.
Step 1. Identify Decay
The first step in the process is identifying the problem. This is accomplished by having X-rays. During regular preventative care appointments, your dentist will request X-rays to get a literal picture of what’s happening in your mouth. When decay is present, it’s likely necessary to get a filling. It’s possible to get a filling the same day that you find out about the decay. There are different materials used for fillings, which means you’ll need to decide which material you want. The most popular types of fillings are tooth-colored.
Step 2. Numb the Tooth and Surrounding Area
For a painless process, your dentist will numb the tooth and the surrounding area. But don’t worry, most dentists use a topical solution to numb the treated area before administering the anesthetic. Even if you don’t like needles, you’ll be fine since you won’t feel anything after the numbing gel is applied.
Step 3. Prepare the Decayed Tooth
After you have received the anesthetic, it’s time to have your tooth prepped for the procedure. This will often involve placing a dental dam around the tooth so that it remains dry and free of bacteria until the procedure is completed. During this step, the dentist is able to see the color of your tooth and make sure the shade of filling material chosen matches perfectly.
Step 4. Remove the Tooth Decay
Removal of the tooth decay is accomplished with a dental drill. Although the term ‘drill’ sounds scary, it’s not bad at all because you won’t be able to feel anything. During the procedure, a dental assistant will help by suctioning out debris and saliva from your mouth that accumulates when the decay is being eliminated.
Step 5. Place the Filling
After all of the decay has been removed, it’s time to fill the tooth. The process will vary depending on the material chosen. Some of the most common materials are silver amalgam, gold and porcelain. After the filling material is added, a light is used for the curing process. This is what causes the filling to harden so that it stays in place.
Step 6. Make Any Necessary Adjustments
After the filling has hardened, you will need to bite down on a piece of carbon paper to make sure it’s the proper height. When the filling is higher than your tooth, you can feel it when chewing food. Sometimes the dentist will need to file down the filling to make it the same height as your tooth. This is a minor procedure that doesn’t take long and isn’t painful. Once the filling is adjusted, you’ll need to rinse out your mouth. After that, you’re all set!
This is the basic timeline when getting a tooth filling. It’s worth noting that you’ll need to avoid eating or drinking for a few hours. Your dentists will confirm the timeframe and whether there are any other restrictions. You should also avoid any of the activities that may have caused the tooth decay, such as consuming sugary foods and not brushing and flossing daily. Another key consideration is making sure you have a sufficient amount of fluoride. Since there are some municipalities that include fluoride in the water supply, your dentist can tell you if you are consuming enough fluoride.