Dental Health, Health & Fitness

How Long Does A Cavity Filling Take? A Comprehensive Guide For Patients!

A filling is something the dentist uses to treat a small hole or a cavity in a tooth. To get a filling done, the dentist ...

by Jason Wesley

How Long Does A Cavity Filling Take? A Comprehensive Guide For Patients!

A filling is something the dentist uses to treat a small hole or a cavity in a tooth. To get a filling done, the dentist removes the decayed tooth tissue and fills that space with a filling material. As for what cavities are, it is the damaged area on the hard surface of your teeth. Cavities cause tiny openings or holes in the teeth that cause serious toothaches, infection, and even tooth loss.

Cavities can be caused by various reasons, such as bacteria in the mouth, drinking too many sugary drinks, snacking a lot, or not maintaining proper oral hygiene. Cavities and tooth decay are some of the most common health problems worldwide, and if cavities are not treated, they can get larger and affect the deeper layers of the teeth. 

It is necessary to have regular dental checkups to detect early signs of cavities or other dental problems. Also, it is very important to treat cavities soon, because delaying treatment can worsen the cavities, which may affect tooth health and increase the risk of losing tooth. Along with getting timely treatment for cavities, one should take the needed measures to maintain oral health and prevent cavities. 

Understanding Dental Cavities

As said, cavities are holes or structural damage in the hard surface of teeth. It is a hole that appears from tooth decay and is often caused by plaque buildup, poor oral hygiene, and eating too many sugary snacks and drinks. Cavities do not go away on their own but the pain it causes can fade. However, we cannot believe that the cavity is gone just because we don’t experience any pain, as this is because tooth decay has caused nerve damage. 

Dental Cavities

Some other causes of cavities are;

  • Genetics
  • Acidic foods or drinks
  • Alcohol 
  • Tooth grinding
  • Low saliva production
  • Diet
  • Gingival recession 

There are mainly three types of cavities due to the way they look like and they are; smooth surface cavities that occur on the smooth sides of the teeth, root cavities that occur on the surface of the roots, and pit and fissure cavities that occur on the chewing surface of the teeth. If cavities are not treated properly, they get larger and can affect the deeper layers of teeth.

Along with getting timely treatments, maintaining oral hygiene is necessary to prevent cavities and other dental problems. The symptoms of cavities vary, depending on where they are located and how many you have. At the earlier stage of cavities, you may not experience any symptoms, but as it gets larger, it may cause the following symptoms; 

  • Toothache
  • Holes in tooth
  • Tooth Sensitivity
  • Tooth infections
  • Mild to sharp pain while eating or drinking anything sweet, cold, or hot
  • Pain when you bite down
  • Brown, white, or black stain on the surface of the tooth 
  • Bad breath
  • Discoloration of teeth 

Types Of Dental Fillings

Fillings are a treatment for cavities, and the dentist fills the hole with material after removing the decayed tooth tissue. Fillings are also used to repair minor cracks or chips on the teeth. Dental fillings are not painful but one may feel uncomfortable due to anxiety. Fillings are safe and effective ways to treat cavities and there are different types of dental fillings. They are;

➡️Amalgam fillings

This type of filling is silver in color and contains a mixture of mercury with silver, tin, zinc, and copper. This is a common choice and is preferred by most as it is long-lasting, sturdy, and less pricey. This filling can even last up to 12 years of use. However, amalgam fillings are not aesthetically pleasing, which makes them a bad option for visible teeth. 

➡️Resin composite

It contains a resin base with powdered quartz, silica, or glass, and is tooth-colored. It is created from plastic and resin material and placed inside the tooth while it is soft, and is hardened with a bright curing light. This filling is also a common choice as it can be customized according to the patient’s existing teeth. However, this type of filling is not long-lasting like other fillings and replacement might be required. It usually survives for 5 to 10 years. 

➡️Glass ionomer

This filling is tooth-colored and is made of silica glass powder and acrylic. This filling is usually used on children whose teeth are still forming. They only last around a few years, as they are weaker than other fillings. They might crack or wear out and are not natural-looking like composite resin. 

➡️Ceramic fillings

It is made using porcelain material, which is why it is durable and cosmetically appealing. It is more expensive than other fillings but they are tooth colored and resist stains better than composite fillings. However, this type of filling is more brittle and thus has to be used on large cavities to prevent breakage.

➡️Indirect fillings

Indirect fillings are made from porcelain or composite and require a minimum of two appointments. This filling is made in a dental laboratory and is bonded to teeth in a single piece to restore function and aesthetics.

The Cavity Filling Process: Step By Step

Before starting cavity treatment, the dental professional uses a numbing agent on the gums. Once the anesthesia is done, the dentist removes the decayed and damaged tissue from the tooth using specialized instruments. Then, the hole or space will be filled with the filling material.

Cavity Filling Process

If the filling is resin composite, a dental curing light will be used to harden the material. After filling the cavity, it will be polished and smoothened if there are any rough edges. Once the process is done, the dentist will ask you to bite a few times to ensure it feels normal. 

Average Time For A Standard Cavity Filling

The average time taken for a standard cavity filling is an hour or less. A simple filling might take as few as 20 minutes as many dental clinics have the technology to make onlays and inlays in one appointment. However, a larger or multiple filling can take a longer time.

In complex cases, if a more intricate approach is needed, additional time and follow-up appointments might be required. 

You might also like to read: Root Canal On Front Teeth: Everything You Need To Know

Factors Affecting The Duration Of A Cavity Filling

Fillings do not fall out on their own. There will always be a reason behind that occurrence and ensure you consult the dentist fast. Factors affecting the duration of a cavity filler other than the materials used include;

  • Eating habits
  • Oral hygiene 
  • Injury or trauma to the teeth
  • Size and location of the filling
  • A new decay present around the filling
  • Chewing too hard while eating
  • Biting into very hard or crunchy foods
  • Incorrect placement of fillings

Summing Up

Dental cavities or caries are some of the most common health conditions most people face today. The causes of cavities can be due to poor oral hygiene, plaque buildup, bacteria, consuming too much sugary food and drinks, low saliva production, alcohol, and more. It is necessary to get frequent dental checkups to prevent further tooth damage and detect tooth problems. If we don’t get timely treatment, it may worsen the condition and even result in tooth loss. Symptoms of cavities include toothache, holes in teeth, stains, sensitivity, and mild to sharp pain while eating or drinking something hot or cold. 

Most people delay dental treatment due to anxiety. However, dental fillings are painless, safe, and effective. A normal filling only takes around an hour or less and only in complicated cases, it takes longer time or follow-up appointments. There are three to four types of dental fillings, which one can choose according to their preference and budget.

Even after getting a filling done, a lot of factors affect the duration of a cavity filling. They include eating habits, oral hygiene, trauma, biting into very hard or crunchy foods, and more. It is vital to maintain oral hygiene and have regular checkups to attain healthy teeth and gums. Ensure you brush twice daily, rinse your mouth after eating, avoid snacking too much, follow a healthy diet, and have regular checkups to prevent cavities. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is cavity filling painful?

Cavity fillings are not painful, and the dentist may apply a numbing agent to the gums before treatment to ensure you don’t feel anything. It is highly unlikely that you will experience pain but it may be uncomfortable because of anxiety. 

2. Can you eat after a filling?

Even though you can eat as soon as you leave the dentist’s clinic, the dentist may advise you to wait for at least 2 hours before chewing on the filling if you are still numb from the anesthesia. Also, it is best to avoid very cold or hot foods immediately after getting a filling. 

3. Why do cavity fillings take so long?

Dental fillings usually take around an hour or less but may be time-consuming, in case the cavity is bigger and deeper. Also, other complications like the location of the cavity affect the difficulty and duration of the treatment. 

4. Can a tooth rot around a filling?

Yes, the tooth can rot around a filling if the filling has been cracked, worn, or damaged. If the filling is damaged, the bacteria enter the tooth and a new cavity starts again. 

5. How bad is getting a cavity filled?

It is common to feel scared of getting a cavity filled but it does not hurt. The density ensures that anesthesia is given before the treatment begins to numb the gums, so the patient does not feel a thing. Only in rare cases, you will experience pain. 


  • Jason Wesley

    Jason Wesley, DDS, is a highly skilled dentist specializing in cosmetic dentistry, renowned for his commitment to excellence and patient-centered care. With years of experience in the field, he is deeply committed to helping individuals achieve their dream smiles through personalized treatment plans tailored to their unique needs.

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