The process of filling cavities is a fairly simple and straightforward one that can be done right at your dentist's office.
Materials Used for Filling Cavities
There is a wide variety of materials used for filling cavities and they vary in strength, color, and cost. The two most common types are amalgam and composite.
- Amalgam Fillings: Amalgam has been used by dental professionals for more than a century; it is the most researched material used for filling cavities. Amalgam fillings are strong and are therefore ideal for filling cavities in the back of the mouth such as in the molars, where chewing takes place. Since they are made of a combination of several metallic elements, amalgam fillings can be noticeable when you laugh or smile. These fillings are among the least expensive of all cavity-filling materials. (1)
- Composite Fillings: Sometimes referred to as composites or filled resins, these fillings feature a combination of glass or quartz filler and can be made to match the color of your tooth. Composite fillings are also fairly durable and are ideal for small-to-mid-size restorations in areas of your mouth that perform moderate chewing. (1)
Filling Cavities: What to Expect
You should expect to be at your dentist's office for around an hour. This gives him or her enough time to take x-rays if needed, talk to you about the procedure and complete the dental work. Before filling cavities, your dentist will numb your teeth, gums and surrounding skin to avoid and lessen discomfort during the procedure. (2) Next, he or she will drill out the decay in the tooth and replace it with a filling. This process only takes a few minutes.
Once you're done, your mouth will probably remain numb for a few more hours. There aren’t any significant risks associated with filling cavities, but be sure to keep your dentist’s contact information on hand in case you have any questions or complications.