A filling is a material that your dentist uses to fill a cavity after he or she removes any tooth decay.
To fill a tooth, your dentist will:
Fillings can be made from many types of material. Talk to your dentist about which type would be best for you.
After your dentist has filled the cavity, your lips and gums may remain numb for a few hours until the numbing medicine wears off. To avoid injuring your mouth, be careful not to chew on your numb lip or cheek.
You need a filling when tooth decay has caused a hole (cavity) to form on a tooth surface. If you don’t get a filling, the cavity will get worse and lead to more severe problems, such as bone loss.
A filling repairs the tooth and stops tooth decay. Over a long period of time, you may need to replace a worn-out filling.
Your filled tooth may be sensitive to heat and cold for days to weeks after you get the filling. Talk to your dentist about toothpastes that may help you with this discomfort. Tell your dentist if your teeth are too sensitive after you get a filling, because you can usually treat this problem.
There is almost no risk involved in having a cavity filled.
If you have certain heart problems, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics before a dental procedure. Some procedures can cause bacteria in the mouth to enter the bloodstream and cause infections in other parts of the body. The antibiotics lower your risk of getting an infection in your heart called endocarditis. For more information, see People Who Need Antibiotics to Prevent Endocarditis and Procedures That May Require Antibiotics to Prevent Endocarditis.
It is important to start treatment before tooth decay becomes worse. More severe decay may cause pain and tooth loss and may require a costly crown, a root canal, or tooth removal (extraction).
Some dentists now use a laser system to remove tooth decay and prepare the tooth for filling. Laser treatment is a relatively new choice for dental treatment and may not be available in your area.