Tooth fillings are one of the most common dental procedures, typically performed to treat cavities or repair damaged teeth. If you’re scheduled for a tooth filling or are curious about the process, understanding what to expect during the procedure can help alleviate any anxiety.
Diagnosis and treatment planning:
The first step in getting a tooth filling is a thorough examination by your dentist. They will assess the extent of the decay or damage and determine the most suitable type of filling for your specific situation. Common filling materials include amalgam, composite resin, and porcelain.
Before starting the procedure, your dentist will administer a local anesthetic to numb the area around the affected tooth. This ensures that you won’t feel any pain during the filling process.
In many cases, the dentist will use a dental dam, a small rubber sheet, to isolate the tooth receiving the filling. This keeps the tooth dry and free from saliva during the procedure, ensuring that the filling materials bond effectively.
Using a dental drill or laser, the dentist will remove the decayed or damaged portion of the tooth. This creates a clean and healthy surface for the filling material to bond to. The dentist will also shape the cavity to ensure a secure fit for the filling.
Filling material application:
The type of filling material chosen by your dentist will determine the next steps:
- Amalgam fillings: If an amalgam filling is selected, the dentist will mix the amalgam and place it in the prepared cavity. Amalgam fillings are self-hardening.
- Composite fillings: For composite fillings, the dentist will layer the tooth-colored composite resin into the cavity, using a special light to harden each layer. This ensures a strong bond with the tooth.
- Porcelain fillings: Porcelain fillings are custom-made in a dental laboratory. They will be bonded to the tooth during a subsequent appointment.
Shaping and polishing:
Once the filling material is in place and has hardened, the dentist will shape and polish it to ensure a comfortable bite and a natural appearance. This step may involve adjustments to the filling’s size and contours.
After shaping and polishing, the dentist will check your bite to ensure that it is comfortable and that the filling functions correctly. Any necessary final adjustments will be made at this stage.