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Dental fillings

Got a cavity? Get a filling. Dental fillings are the first line of defense against tooth decay.

Questions to ask your doctor: What are the health dangers of amalgam fillings? Should I get my amalgan fillings replaced? What type of filling should I get?

Pre-procedure prep for dental fillings: No special pre-procedure prep is necessary.

On the day of treatment: You may wish to take a drugstore painkiller before the procedure. Brush and floss as per usual.

What To Expect

During a dental filling procedure, the dentist will first numb the tooth and the surrounding gum with an anesthetic. While the needle used to apply the anesthetic may look intimidating, the application will only feel like a pinch or a sting.

Once the numbing effect sets in, the dentist will use a tool (usually a drill, though sometimes an air abrasion tool) to remove decayed tooth material. The dentist will then clear away the debris and apply the filling. If the cavity is very deep, the dentist may place a liner over the cavity before filling it. The filling is then polished and dried.

Who should do it: Only licensed dentists can fill teeth.

Duration: Fillings take about 20 to 30 minutes per tooth: about 10 to 15 minutes to prep, 5 to fill and 5 to 10 minutes to dry. Especially large fillings may take longer.

How Painful Is It?

Local anesthesia is used during the procedure, and the injection of the anesthestia will feel like a pinch or bee sting. After the anesthesia kicks in, there should be no pain, though you will feel a dull throbbing once the anesthesia wears off.

Options for anesthesia: A local anesthesia will be used. You should feel free to take an OTC painkiller after the procedure if you have any lingering discomfort.

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