Local Dentist | So You Need A Filling

What is a filling?

If you have a cavity in your tooth, it’s important to make sure it gets filled as soon as possible - if you don’t, you risk developing tooth decay as bacteria gathers and grows inside the hole. If you leave it alone for too long, you’ll end up with tooth decay, and you’re in a race against the clock before it reaches the soft tissue in the centre of your tooth - which is a more painful (and expensive) problem than simply getting the cavity filled in the first place.

Your dentist will use a variety of materials to fill the cavity:

  • Amalgam: a mixture of mercury, tin and silver, which has been used for over 150 to fill cavities. It’s inexpensive, quick and easy.

  • Composite Resin: this tooth-coloured filling is an ideal option if you’re concerned about the silver colour of amalgam.

  • Gold: not as popular as it once was, because it’s expensive and tricky to work with. If you opt for a gold filling, the procedure is likely to take longer.

  • Ceramics: this is another tooth-coloured option, but requires special equipment, so you can expect a few appointments to complete the process - and it’s a little more expensive than a composite resin would be.

What happens during a filling?

Your dentist will start by numbing the area which is going to be treated, usually applying a numbing gel before injecting your gum with an anaesthetic. Once your mouth is numb, your dentist will use a small drill to remove the decay within your tooth. The dentistry team will use water to loosen any debris, and a small suction tube to get rid of the material. It’s important that your tooth is totally clean before the filling is put in, so your dentist might also apply a gel to remove any remaining bacteria before replacing the removed area with a filling.

After the filling has been applied, the dentist will smooth down the edges and give your tooth a quick polish - this will help your mouth feel normal after the treatment - although you can expect to feel a little numb for a few hours after the filling.

Will the process of getting filling hurt?

It depends on how big the cavity is, and the extent to which the tooth has begun to decay. If you visit your local dentist regularly for a biannual check up, it should be possible for your dentist to catch any cavities nice and early, when they’re still small. If your cavity is only small, it will be quick and easy to fix, and any discomfort should be minimal. Your dentist might recommend that you don’t even receive a numbing injection for these cavities - a numbing gel might be enough to completely remove any discomfort from the procedure.

If the cavity is deeper, your dentist will need to remove more decay, and it will take longer to fill. Bear in mind that deeper cavities are closer to the nerve endings inside your teeth, so there’s more chance of discomfort during the procedure. In these instances, your dentist will recommend an injected anaesthetic to ensure you don’t experience pain during the filling.


Not what you’re looking for? Take a look through our archives to find the dental procedure you’ve been offered, and to learn more about what to expect when you’re in the waiting room.