If you’re like most people, the thought of visiting the dentist for a tooth filling provokes a bit of anxiety. Even if you don’t feel the drill, being aware of what’s happening can cause you to worry about pain or discomfort. Sometimes knowing what to expect before you get any cavity fillings can calm your nerves.
Our Ballantyne dental practice performs many cavity fillings each year, so we’re skilled at ensuring your safety and comfort. For us, dental fillings are a routine procedure. But for you, the patient, we understand it helps to know what we’re about to do and why.
Cavity Filling Procedure Prep
Before you get any fillings for your teeth, we need to remove the decay. This is where we bring out the drill. But first, we will make sure you’re as comfortable as possible. We’ll use local anesthesia to ensure you don’t feel pain.
If you have sensitive teeth and gums, it helps us to know that. Likewise, please let us know if you have issues with local anesthesia or higher amounts of anxiety. We want to be as compassionate about your concerns as possible.
The time it will take to prepare your tooth for a filling will depend on the amount of decay and the tooth in question. Back molars are, of course, harder to get to. Front teeth may be easier to reach, but there are more concerns about how the tooth will look afterward. These teeth, after all, are what people see when you smile. But in either case, we want to ensure your teeth are properly prepared for cavity fillings.
Steps Your Charlotte Dentistry Practice Will Take
Getting dental fillings is a multi-step process. Our dental practice in Ballantyne takes each of these steps with the utmost care. While we’ll go over these steps with you at your appointment, here is a brief overview of what you can expect.
The majority of cavity fillings start with numbing your gums. Your dentist will use numbing gel on your gums. The gel will temporarily decrease the sensation in the gums surrounding the tooth with decay. Your dentist will also inject local anesthesia in the same area to ensure you won’t feel pain.
After the numbing gel and anesthesia take effect, a drill will be used to remove the decay. Once your dentist removes the decay, they will fill the cavity. Depending on your discussion with your dentist, you may get a composite, amalgam, or gold filling.
Our Charlotte dentist typically uses composite dental fillings to repair and strengthen your teeth. When the filling is in place, we’ll polish it so it feels and looks natural. In addition, we may make slight adjustments so your bite is also normal and natural. Composite cavity fillings take a bit to harden, a process known as curing. Most dentists use a special light to accomplish this.
How Long Do Cavity Fillings Take?
One question our Charlotte dentistry patients have is “How long do cavity fillings take?” The length of time can vary, but the average is an hour or less. If you need a small filing, you might be in and out of the chair in 20 to 30 minutes.
Because we need to harden composite fillings, these can take a little longer than silver or gold dental fillings. If we’re making a composite filling from an impression, it can take up to two visits. However, the majority of fillings for teeth only take one visit.
Another potential complication that impacts the time it takes is whether you have an old filling we need to replace. Maybe our Charlotte dentist needs to remove it because it’s worn or damaged. It will take slightly longer to drill out the existing filling and replace it. After removal, we’ll clean the cavity before we put in the new filling.
What To Expect During Recovery
After your procedure, your gums and mouth may remain numb for a couple of hours. You’ll notice the numbness will gradually wear off. You might notice the skin on the side where your dentist applied the anesthesia is also slightly numb. In the majority of cases, the numbness wears off without any complications.
With local anesthesia, you can drive yourself home once your cavity filling is in place. You might notice some sensitivity in and near the tooth once the numbness wears off. It’s best to avoid hot and cold foods for a while after your filling. If you notice any signs of infection or damage to your dental fillings, be sure to contact your dentist immediately.
How Long Do Cavity Fillings Last?
Regardless of what type of dental fillings you get, they rarely last for your entire life. So, how long do cavity fillings last? In most cases, you can expect them to last between five and fifteen years.
We know there’s a bit of a gap between the low and high end of the range. Some factors impact how long cavity fillings last. These include whether you grind your teeth, injuries to your teeth, your oral hygiene habits, and what types of foods you eat. If decay develops around a filling, it won’t last as long.
That’s why it’s so important to maintain good oral hygiene at home and avoid biting down on foods like popcorn kernels. These can crack your teeth, including dental fillings. You’ll also want to keep up with your dental exams and cleanings. Our Charlotte dentistry practice can spot problems with cavity fillings before they result in further damage.
Visit Your Ballantyne, NC Dentist for Dental Fillings
We hope you better understand what happens during a dental filling and we’ve called some of your fears. If you need to talk to us about getting cavity fillings in Ballantyne near Charlotte, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
You can contact us by phone or email to schedule an appointment. We’re here to answer your questions about dental fillings, tooth extractions, and root canals. Your comfort is our priority!