Cavity Filling Treatment

Cavity Filling Treatment

Cavities can occur at any age. If caught early in a regular dental exam, there often will not be any pain associated with it. When you ignore it, that cavity could end up causing you a considerable amount of dental pain. The result will be that you will want to find a dentist as fast as you can. A dentist can easily provide you with cavity filling treatment and give you a dental filling that will quickly remedy the problem.

What to Do Beforehand

If for some reason, your toothache occurs at night or on a weekend when a dentist’s office is not open, there are several things you can do at home for it. Some toothaches can be very painful and you will not be able to easily ignore it any longer. When teeth become sensitive to hot or cold temperatures, it is usually because a cavity is forming and you already have a thin spot in the tooth enamel.

  • Brush and floss

The first thing you want to do is to brush your teeth, brushing gently near the tooth causing the pain. Then, gently floss around the tooth that is causing the pain. Oftentimes, this will dislodge food particles in between the teeth that are causing the irritation. Removing it will often bring nearly instant pain relief. Of course, it does not take care of the cavity. You still need to have a tooth filling put in. 

  • Pain medications

Another thing you can do if that does not provide toothache relief is to take over-the-counter pain relievers. Acetaminophen works well for children and ibuprofen will help adults. Do not put aspirin on your gums because it can damage them – it contains acid.

  • A cold compress

Other solutions for your pain include putting a cold compress on your cheek near the hurting tooth. Putting an ice cube on the hurting tooth and gums for seven minutes may also help because it will numb the tooth. 

  • Clove oil

Clove oil is a natural pain reliever and it will help numb the pain. Place a couple of drops on a cotton ball and rub it on the tooth and gums. You can also add a couple of drops directly on the area and rub it in.

Stages of Filling a Cavity

A cavity is caused by bacteria that are naturally found in your mouth. The bacteria produce acid whenever you consume sugar either as a sweet food or drink. The acid creates a hole in the enamel of the tooth and it will only grow larger if not treated. A cavity filling will be used to repair the tooth. 

When you arrive at the dentist’s office for cavity filling treatment, you will fill out a form about your current health and health history. You will be asked about any medications you are using, including supplements and herbal remedies. You will also be asked about any allergies you may have to medications or anesthetics. This is important because the dentist wants to ensure that you do not have a reaction when giving you the anesthetic. 

  1. Numbing

When you go to the dentist’s office, the first thing that the dentist will do is to provide anesthetic. It will numb the gums and the nerve in the tooth so that you do not feel any pain. 

Most of the time, a local anesthetic will be used. Lidocaine is the most common type and it will be given by injection. Other types of anesthesia (stronger) can also be given if patients prefer them.

If local anesthesia is used, you can expect that it will last about one-and-a-half to two hours. After that, the numbness you feel in your mouth will disappear. 

  1. Removing Decay

Once the anesthetic has become effective, the dentist will work on removing the decay. This step will be performed either by a drill or by a laser. All of it will need to be removed in order to prevent further decay. 

After the decay is removed, the dentist will sterilize the hole and the surrounding area. This ensures that any bacteria in the area is destroyed. 

If the amount of decay is large, other types of treatment may be necessary. When the dentist suspects more decay than usual, an x-ray of the tooth will be taken so that the depth can be determined prior to starting on the treatment.

  1. Filling material

There are several types of filling material that is used today. While amalgam fillings are the cheapest and still very common, white fillings are also very popular. The types include:

  • Amalgam – This is the oldest type of filling and it is still in common use today. Also called silver fillings, it consists of several metals including tin, silver, and mercury. Although the mercury has been much debated, it has been determined to be safe. It is inexpensive and strong and can be expected to last for about 15 years. Because of their silver color, they are highly visible.
  • Gold fillings – Gold is considered to be one of the longest-lasting types of fillings. It is not pure gold, but it is mixed with other metals and still retains the appearance of gold. It will last much longer than amalgam fillings but it is also highly visible. It must be made in a lab. 
  • Ceramic (porcelain fillings) – This type of filling is usually made of ceramic and must be made in a lab. It is excellent for front teeth because it is tooth-colored, looks natural, but it is expensive. They are also called inlays and onlays. 
  • Composite fillings – Also called white fillings and composite resin fillings, this type will match the color of your teeth. They are very popular today because they make your teeth look natural and healthy, compared to the look from metal-based fillings. They are used in small-to-medium-sized cavities. The material is not as durable as other types but may be expected to last from five to seven years but with care, they can last longer. It can be easily repaired. Care needs to be taken to avoid staining them because it cannot be removed. 
  • Glass Ionomer – This filling is made of a mixture of acrylic and glass. It slowly releases fluoride into the cavity space to help prevent further decay. They are less durable than other types and will probably only last about five years. 
  1. Adjusting

There are occasions when a filling is put in and it is higher than it should be. This can create problems, such as:

  • A bite that is off
  • A cracked tooth
  • Inflamed gums and ligaments
  • Pain.

When a filling needs adjusting, the dentist will grind it down some and check your bite. You will also be asked how it feels, and are not likely to need or be given any anesthetic. After the filling has been reduced successfully, your bite should be more comfortable and natural.

Replacing Fillings

Over time, dental fillings can become damaged. All filling materials, except gold, may crack, chip, break, or even fall out. Sometimes, biting down on hard objects or being hit in the mouth with a baseball, etc., can knock a filling out. When this happens, you want to visit a dentist soon in order to replace the filling. 

At other times, a filling may move away from the tooth, leaving a space. Bacteria can get into the space and eventually down into the pulp, where it will cause an infection. This may lead to an abscessed tooth, which would likely need a root canal to correct it.

When a filling is damaged, it needs to be replaced. It will first be drilled out, and then the steps mentioned above will be followed. 

If a mercury amalgam filling is going to be removed and white fillings installed in its place, stringent procedures must be followed by the dentist. You will be completely covered and given a breathing mask in order to prevent you from inhaling mercury vapor that will be released from the drilling process.


Normally, when you are given a filling, you do not need to give it any special care. You do want to take good care of your teeth and be sure to brush and floss daily. Although the filling itself will not corrode or decay, the tooth that it is attached to still can. 

Two types of fillings, however, are less durable than other ones. This includes a temporary filling and a composite filling. Chewing hard materials, such as hard candy, ice, etc., can damage these fillings.

Another thing you need to be aware of is if you have been given a temporary filling. If the filling goes to the edge of the tooth, be careful when flossing. Pull the floss to the side edge of the tooth, instead of pulling it up because it could dislodge the filling.

Other Cavity Treatments

When cavities are deeper, or the tooth has been damaged, other types of dental care may be necessary. Fillings may not work. Other treatments that may be necessary include:

  • Dental crowns
  • Root canals
  • Tooth extractions.

All of these treatments are much more expensive than a filling. By making regular dental cleaning appointments, cavities can be spotted early and treated with fillings, preventing the need for expensive dental treatments.

Preventing Cavities

Preventing cavities is the best way to keep your teeth in good health. It will also enable you to keep them for a very long time. Some steps that you can take to help prevent cavities include:

  • Brush twice a day and floss
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste
  • Make regular dental appointments
  • Reduce sugary snacks and drinks – sodas, fruit juice, and specialty coffees
  • Rinse your mouth out with water after eating 
  • Eat healthy (it will strengthen your tooth enamel).

If you or our child has cavities and needs a cavity filling treatment, Dr. Kumar T. Vadivel, DDS, FDS RCS, MS, a Board Certified Periodontist, can help you. He provides all types of tooth filling and other dental treatments in his Champion Dental office in Farmers Branch, TX. Most dental insurance plans are accepted. To set up a consultation or to get more information about the various options of a dental filling, you can contact his office at (214) 747-0763.

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