If you have found out that you have a dental cavity, and you will need to make an appointment to have it filled, you may be wondering how much time you will need to set aside for it. So, how long does a filling take?
Every patient and every cavity is different, so the length of time will vary. There are some general estimates, but the time for your dental filling will depend on a few factors, such as how big it is, how deep it is, where it is, the dental filling material, and other variables.
What Are Dental Fillings?
The filling process is a simple procedure to restore teeth that are decayed or have very minor chips. If a tooth is heavily damaged, a filling may not be possible and a more complex treatment may be required. A filling helps restore the structure of a tooth that has been weakened by tooth decay, and helps prevent further decay.
Types of Dental Fillings
There are a few different filling materials. There are porcelain, composite resin, and metal fillings, such as gold fillings. Composite fillings are the most common form used today and they are made of an acrylic and ceramic mixture which is tooth coloured.
Types of Cavities
Smooth-surface cavities are located on the surfaces of the teeth, and can affect the outer layer called the enamel and the inner layer which is the dentin. Once the cavities reach dentin, the tooth will need treatment, as there is no longer protection against acid and bacteria. Fissure cavities, or pit cavities, are found in the deep pits and grooves on the molars. Root cavities are those affecting the root of the teeth, below the gums, and are more complex to treat.
Process to Restore Tooth Decay
This is one of the most common dental procedures. A local anesthetic is used so it is a relatively painless procedure. Then, for decayed teeth, the decay is cleaned out of the affected tooth thoroughly with a dental bur. The area may then be shaped or etched for a well-fitting filling. With composite resin fillings, layers of the material are added until the hole is filled smoothly. A blue wavelength light is used to cure and harden each layer.
How Long Will Your Filling Take?
Cavity fillings can be completed in as little as 15 minutes, or may take up to an hour for more complex cases. Your filling time will depend on a few factors, but most cavity filling procedures take under a half-hour.
Size and Severity
How deep and large a cavity is will affect the time needed for the cavity filling. A small cavity will take less time than a larger one or one that has gone deeper into the underlying dentin. If you notice tooth sensitivity to hot or cold foods, it may indicate that a cavity has reached the dentin. These deeper holes will require more time for a cavity filling, as it will take longer to clean out and to fill in layers.
If a cavity is severe enough, it may reach the blood vessels and nerves in the root canals or the cementum, which attaches teeth to the jawbone. In these cases, a simple cavity filling is not possible, and a more complicated and lengthy treatment, such as a root canal, will be required.
Also, if you have several cavities, your visit will be longer for the necessary multiple fillings.
Regular dental checkups help ensure any cavities are caught at the earliest stages, for quicker, easier treatment.
The location of the tooth decay impacts the time, too. If the decayed tooth is harder to reach at the back of your mouth, or the decay is under the gum line, the procedure will be more complex and take more time.
Hard foods, sticky foods, a trauma, or simply everyday use can cause fillings to come out. Replacing a filling will take roughly the same amount of time as a new one, unless the old filling material needs to be removed.
At Robson Square Dental, we use composite resin material for our fillings, for tooth coloured, natural-looking restorations for tooth decay. If you have a tooth stain or can feel a small hole, or if you have an ongoing ache or teeth sensitivity, you may have a cavity or other dental issue, and should get your symptoms checked out by a dentist.