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How Long Does It Take to Fill a Cavity?

Published date field Last Updated:

Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

No one likes having cavities, but ignoring them will only make them worse. Cavities won’t heal on their own and need to be filled by a dentist. A filling helps restore your decayed tooth and prevents further decay by eliminating areas where bacteria can attack the tooth. Worried that filling a cavity will take a long time? Don’t worry, we’re here to guide you through the process and show you how you can quickly go back to smiling again!

The Filling Procedure: What to Expect

Are you wondering how long a filling will take? The good news is that cavities are relatively easy for dental professionals to fix. And what’s more, they use a local anesthetic to numb the area that they’ll be working on so that you feel no pain during the procedure. The anesthetic will be injected into the gum tissue, which might cause a stinging sensation, but this is only temporary.

Then, the dental professional will use a dental drill or laser to remove decay from the tooth. Next, the newly created space needs to be made ready for the filling. How? The dental professional will shape the area and may even etch the tooth with an acid gel.

The next step in the process is the actual application of the filling material. Some types of filling materials need to be hardened using a special light, which the dental professional may shine on you during the procedure.

Finally, the filling needs to be polished. Polishing smoothens the filling and removes any sharp edges that could hurt your tongue or cheek lining.

So how long does the filling procedure take? The procedure is quite straightforward and shouldn’t take about an hour to complete. If you have multiple cavities that need to be filled, your dentist might decide to treat them over multiple visits.

After the Filling: What to Expect

After the filling procedure, it’s normal to experience some tooth sensitivity or soreness. This can last up to a couple of days. The best thing to do is avoid foods that can trigger increased sensitivity, such as very hot or cold drinks, sugar foods, and soft drinks. If the sensitivity doesn’t go away in a couple of days or gets worse, don’t hesitate to consult with your dentist.

Some fillings need time to set. So eating sticky foods can dislodge your filling. Ask your dentist how long you have to wait before you can eat sticky or hard foods.

The anesthetic should start wearing off soon after the procedure, so you might notice some discomfort in the hours that follow. Again, check with your dentist if you continue to feel uncomfortable.

Is Prevention Better Than Cure?

While filling a cavity isn’t as scary as you might have imagined, it’s always better to prevent cavities by establishing good oral hygiene. Some ways to improve your oral care routine are:

  • Brush twice a day and floss at least once daily.
  • Avoid candy and soda since cavity-inducing bacteria can feed on sugars.
  • Don’t miss regular trips to a dental professional. These visits ensure that your teeth get cleaned and examined for cavities you may have missed.

Who hasn’t put off getting their cavities filled? But if your cavity is left untreated, the decay can spread and result in expensive treatments. So next time you think you might have one, remind yourself how it doesn’t take too long to fill a cavity and set up an appointment with your dentist. That way, you’ll be smiling again in no time!

Oral Care Center articles are reviewed by an oral health medical professional. This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, physician or other qualified healthcare provider. 

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