You’re sitting in your dentist’s chair for your checkup, and you hear the dreaded words that you have a cavity. Is it really a cause for panic? Modern advances in equipment and methods may surprise you about what really happens when you get a filling. Let’s learn what to expect if you need this procedure.
The first thing you and your dentist will discuss is the type of filling that is best for you. One choice is an amalgam filling. It is known for its durability, but contains a small amount of mercury which raises concerns among some patients. Another option is a resin composite filling, which is a newer material that contains more plastics. Many patients like this option because its white color is less noticeable in your mouth, but it lasts only about half as long as an amalgam filling.
The first step of the process is numbing the area, unless the cavity is very small and it’s unnecessary. First, the dentist will rub a topical numbing agent on the area, and will give you an injection after it takes effect. Many patients don’t even feel the injection after the topical numbing.
Next, the dentist will separate the area being worked on from the rest of your mouth using a rubber dam or a bite block. Once your mouth is ready, your tooth will be drilled and the decay will be removed.
The actual filling will be placed after the decay is gone. If you are receiving an amalgam filling, the hole will be filled with the metals. It will be pushed down to ensure all of the space is full, and then any overflow will be removed to make the tooth smooth. If you are getting a composite filling instead, the dentist will put some blue acid in the hole to create small holes for bonding the material. The acid is then rinsed, and a bonding agent is applied. Then the composite material will be added. A blue light will be used to harden and strengthen the material. Finally, the filling will be filed to make it smooth.
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