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You’re enjoying a marvelous waffle cone complete with your favorite mint chocolate chip ice cream when you feel a sharp pain in a back tooth.

What Is a Tooth Filling?

Dental fillings act like cement patches for potholes in a road. They neatly patch up a damaged, cracked, or decayed tooth, restoring its function, strength, appearance, and shape.

What to Expect

  • Two 60-minute appointments

What Can Dental Fillings Do for Me?

When someone has a cracked or decayed tooth, a dental filling can often solve the emergency quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively. Fillings are a mainstay of proper dental care and vital to good oral health. Getting a cavity filling or a cracked tooth filling right away saves discomfort, time, and money and can last up to 15 years. 

Your dentist can also replace your old amalgam fillings (also called silver tooth fillings, which contain mercury) with composite fillings (tooth-colored fillings), gold fillings, or other types of dental fillings that you and your dentist determine are best for you.

Different types of tooth fillings can:

  • Prevent tooth decay from spreading 
  • Allow a natural tooth to be spared from extraction
  • Reattach part of a broken tooth or chipped tooth
  • Seal cracks to protect the injured tooth

The Filling Process

  • First Visit

    At your first visit (which could be a routine cleaning) your dentist confirms you have a cavity by exam and/or with digital x-rays. Dental checkups are vital every 6 months to catching a cavity at its earliest stages which saves you unnecessary discomfort, time, and money. Your dentist may provide you with a temporary filling until you can schedule to come in for your permanent tooth filling appointment.

  • Second Visit

    At your second visit, the dentist numbs your tooth, if needed, then cleans away any decayed areas of your tooth. This prevents tooth decay from spreading further. When all the damage has been removed, the dentist fills the empty cavity with a composite dental filling material that matches the color of your natural tooth. Once the tooth-colored filling material dries under UV light, the dentist files and polishes it to make it smooth.