Dental fillings do an important job stopping tooth decay and restoring a damaged tooth to its form and function. Even though having dental decay can be uncomfortable and painful, a dental filling procedure is designed to end the discomfort and ensure your tooth is strong again. Believe it or not, dental fillings are quick and easy to complete, and getting yours done sooner rather than later means a simpler and less expensive procedure. Let’s take a closer look at how long does a filling take.
Why Do We Need Dental Fillings?
Even though dental enamel is the hardest substance in the body, it is not indestructible. Every morning and at the end of every day, your teeth, tongue and soft tissue is covered in a thin, sticky substance called plaque. Your job, through bruising and flossing, is to remove this plaque to ensure that it does not cause tooth decay.
When plaque is left to accumulate on the teeth, it hardens and turns into a substance called tartar. Tartar needs to be removed by your dentist otherwise it can cause tooth decay.
Understanding The Dental Filling Procedure
Your dentist probably performs many dental fillings every day and even if you have toothache because of deay, there is no reason to fear getting your tooth filled. Dental fillings are performed under anesthetic to make the experience as comfortable as possible.
During the procedure you can expect
- To have local anaesthetic administered to numb the area your dentist will be working on
- To have the decayed material removed and your tooth reshaped
- To have the hole filled up and the filling material hardened before your tooth is polished
How Long Does A Filling Take?
The duration of time it takes to complete your dental filling is dependant on variables such as:
- The amount of decay that has to be removed
- How easy it is to access the decayed tooth
- The number of tooth surfaces that are affected by the filling
- The type of filling material that has been chosen
- How quickly your dentist works
Of course, if you are having more than one filling, your procedure will take longer.
So, how long does a filling take? Well, probably the longest part of the dental filling procedure is waiting for the anaesthetic to take effect. Every patient is different and sometimes, a bit more anaesthetic may be required if it takes too long for your gums to go numb. In cases where there is a lot of decay, the filling procedure may take longer, in order to clean it out properly.
On average, you can expect around 15 minutes per tooth to be restored. If you are having other treatments done or a check up and clean, you will be sitting in the dentist’s chair for a little longer.
Composite resin dental fillings can take longer to be completed, as your dentist needs to wait for each layer of resin to dry thoroughly before the next one can be done.
Why Early Intervention Is So Important?
Cavities are often referred to as “active decay”. If you do not treat and fill a cavity and the decay is active, it will continue to erode your tooth. If you catch a cavity early on, when it is still small, it is quicker, more affordable and less painful to treat than if you leave it. Large cavities can be very painful and corrode large areas of your teeth, to the extent that you may need a dental crown to cover them up and strengthen a weak tooth.
Untreated tooth decay may also lead to a dead or dying tooth that can only be saved with root canal treatment or, in extreme cases, may result in the loss of your tooth. Active infections can also progress beyond your tooth, to affect your gums, soft tissue and the underlying bone structure.
The Bottom Line
Having a dental filling is a relatively efficient process that should be attended to as soon as possible. Because dental fillings can be completed in as little as 15-20 minutes, you should not delay treatment as it can lead to bigger and more expensive problems to address.
Because the molars and back teeth are difficult to see, and the grooves of the molars make them more susceptible to decay, the best way to stay on top of cavities is to visit your dentist twice a year.
For a more personalised answer to ‘how long does a filling take’, or to book your next check-up please contact us for an appointment: (02) 8203 8760.
How Long Does A Filling Take