what to expect from a filling - woman getting dental procedure

What to Expect from a Dental Filling Procedure

When your dentist says the dreaded word “cavity,” you need to act fast. Untreated tooth decay can lead to serious complications that need more complex treatment than a simple filling. But if you’ve never had a cavity filled, the procedure can seem intimidating. To help you feel more comfortable with the procedure, we put together this guide on exactly what to expect when you get a dental filling. 

What You Can Expect from Getting a Filling

What Are Fillings Made Of?

The most common material used for fillings today is composite resin, which can be colored to match the natural shade of your tooth. In the past, silver fillings were used more widely. These fillings are known as amalgam fillings because they are made from a mixture of metals, including mercury

Amalgam fillings are less common today due to their appearance and the fact some people feel uncomfortable about the mercury. Typically, silver amalgam fillings are only used for fillings in the back molars, where they aren’t as visible. 

Other materials used for fillings include gold, ceramic, and glass ionomer. The best type of filling for you will depend on your budget, your insurance coverage, and whether or not you care how the filling looks. 

What happens when a tooth is filled?

  1. First, your dentist will administer local anesthesia to numb the area around the affected tooth. 
  2. Next, they will remove the decayed parts of the tooth with a drill. 
  3. After removing the damaged portion of the tooth, the dentist will then clean the area and fill the cavity. 
  4. Then they will bond the filling to the tooth using a special light that hardens the material. Finally, the filling will be polished to match the natural shape of the tooth and smooth out any rough edges. 

How long does it take to get a filling?

The entire process can take from 20 minutes to an hour to complete. However, if you have many teeth in need of fillings, you could be in the chair for several hours. Don’t be afraid to ask your dentist ahead of time how long they expect the appointment to take. You may want to make several short visits instead of one long appointment, so you can spend less time in the chair.

Does getting a cavity filled hurt?

The tools used to fill a cavity can be quite noisy and might sound scary, but you should never feel any pain. Thanks to the anesthetic, the most discomfort you should feel is a slight pressure. After the anesthetic wears off, your mouth could be a little sore for a couple of days. If your pain persists, schedule a follow-up examination with your dentist. 

How much does a tooth filling cost?

The price of a dental filling depends on how big the filling is and the type of material used. Fillings should be fully or at least partially covered by your insurance plan as long as you don’t exceed the annual maximum. 

Amalgam fillings are the most affordable option, ranging from $50 to $200 for a single tooth. Composite fillings cost slightly more—around $150 to $300 per tooth—but are much less noticeable than silver amalgam fillings. Gold, porcelain, and glass fillings are the most expensive, costing from $300 up to $4,500 per tooth. 

Do Fillings Need to Be Replaced?

Dental fillings should last 15 to 25 years, depending on the material. However, they may need to be replaced in less time if they are damaged, cause pain, or become loose. You should never ignore a filling that needs to be replaced, as it can expose the already damaged tooth to further decay. 

Dental Fillings in Gilbert, Arizona

If you want to avoid a toothache, don’t hesitate to get your cavities filled. At Lifetime Family Dental, we want to make you feel as comfortable as possible with every dental procedure you need. Our compassionate team is happy to answer any questions you may have about what to expect from a filling. Call us at 480-558-4331 today to discuss our services or set up an appointment.

Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (11/9/2022). Photo by Robert Golebiewski on Pexels