Approximately 25% of adults in the United States have at least one untreated dental cavity. A cavity is an infected hole in your tooth caused by bacteria, and in some cases, it’s exacerbated or initiated by tooth damage.
Not only do untreated cavities cause pain, but the infection can destroy the decayed tooth and pass to other teeth. It can even travel through your bloodstream to affect your organs, putting you in danger of septic shock. Filling a cavity removes the infection, stops its spread, and saves your tooth.
At 2K Dental, our expert dentists, George Kontoveros, DMD, and Anthony Klobas, DMD, routinely treat cavities and tooth damage at our offices in Parma, Cleveland, and Akron, Ohio. Here’s what to expect when it’s time to get a filling.
First, it’s time to relax!
A dental filling is no longer the painful procedure it was in decades past. Our practice uses state-of-the-art technology and effective numbing agents to keep you comfortable. If you have dental anxiety, talk to us ahead of time so we can help you stay calm.
We first look at your tooth with an X-ray so that we know precisely where the cavity is located and how large it is. For very small cavities, you may not even need anesthetic. If you have a damaged tooth that needs a filling to repair the surface, you may not anesthetic, either.
For larger cavities, we use a numbing gel on your gums first so you only feel a slight pinch when we inject the anesthetic into your gums. Your mouth is numb during the procedure and may continue to be numb for several hours. You must be careful not to eat hard foods or bite your cheek or tongue until sensation returns.
Second, we clean the tooth and remove decay
The goal of a cavity treatment is to remove decayed matter and bacteria so that we can restore the tooth. Using a drill or laser, we create a controlled hole in your tooth, through which we remove all of the decayed matter. We clean and disinfect inside the hole to kill any remaining bacteria.
Third, we fill and finish the tooth
Once your cavity or damaged area is clean and bacteria-free, we fill the tooth or repair the damage with dental filling material. You and your dentist choose from filling materials such as:
- Porcelain (aka, ceramic)
- Composite resin
- Glass-ionomer cement
Unlike old-fashioned metal amalgam fillings, which were very visible, today’s filling materials match the color of your tooth. We take care to match the shade of your natural tooth so that your fillings are nearly invisible.
Once the tooth has been repaired and filled, we apply a blue LED light to harden the filling material. Then we polish the tooth.
Fourth, you’re all set!
The entire process of treating and filling a tooth only takes about one hour. If your mouth is numb, we give you aftercare instructions, such as limiting solid or hard foods for a while so you don’t accidentally bite your tongue or cheek.
With proper care, your filling should last for years. If you have a tendency to grind your teeth, we may also recommend a night guard to keep both your teeth and your fillings safe over the long-term.
If you have a cavity or a painful, discolored tooth, contact our friendly staff at one of our Ohio locations to schedule an appointment today.