When your dentist tells you that you have a cavity, do you recoil in fear of pain? At Lifetime Family Dental in Gilbert, AZ, we know many people do. Especially those of a certain age who remember the gigantic, cumbersome, slow-speed drills that rattled your entire head when the dentist approached you, as though he were an oil prospector in Texas. Things are entirely different these days, but the question remains: do fillings hurt?
What is a cavity?
A cavity is simply a hole in a tooth caused by bacterial decay that has broken down the tooth structure. This hole needs to be cleaned before applying a filling. There are bacteria and damaged tissue in there that must first be removed. Fortunately, modern dentistry has tools and materials that are far advanced from the old-school techniques and stereotypes. Today, filling a cavity can be quick and virtually painless.
The first order of business is to assess your pain tolerance and level of concern. Some people are totally fine without novocaine and experience no discomfort. Others want to be numbed so they feel nothing at all. And there are other patients who ask for some level of sedation to relieve their anxiety. Whatever you need, our goal is to make sure you’re comfortable and feel safe while we fix your tooth so any bad bacteria is taken care of.
When you’re relaxed and numb, the dentist will remove all decay. A high speed precision drill is used to completely clean out the cavity so no further damage can occur. The area is rinsed and dried so the cavity can be filled. At this point, we’re halfway finished! Now it’s time to fill the cavity.
Fillings are usually made from composite resins that the dentist creates on the spot. The resin will take the place of the part of the tooth that has been removed. This will strengthen the tooth and prevent decay from reentering the restored tooth. The dentist is able to match the color of the resin to the original tooth and shape it to ensure a proper fit with the surrounding teeth.
The process of filling your tooth begins with mixing the resin into a paste. The paste is then pressed into the cavity in layers, until the entire cavity is filled. Because of its viscosity, each resin layer takes the shape of the cavity, leaving no tiny pockets inside the tooth. When the cavity is filled, the resin layers are cured and heardened using ultraviolet light in a process called photo-polymerization. The tooth will be strong again and cavity-free. After a few hours you’ll be able to eat normally. If there is any residual discomfort, it is usually very mild.
At Lifetime Family Dental in Gilbert, we’ve set patient comfort as a high priority. In addition to local anesthetics that numb the tooth, gums, and jaw, we offer sedation dentistry to alleviate anxiety. Do fillings hurt? Not on our watch! If you are experiencing tooth or jaw pain, don’t delay. Give us a call and we’ll schedule an appointment for you as soon as possible.