Understanding the Process: How Long Does Filling a Cavity Take?

Understanding the Process: How Long Does Filling a Cavity Take?

April 1, 2024

If you have a cavity, you may be wondering how long it will take to get it fixed. You may also be curious about how the size and number of cavities affect the length of time it takes to fill them. This guide answers these questions and explains what to expect from a tooth-filling appointment.

What Is a Cavity?

A cavity is a hole in your tooth that is caused by bacteria. Bacteria feed on the sugar that is in your mouth and produce acid that erodes the enamel, the hard outer coating of your tooth. This leads to tooth decay, which can grow bigger and deeper over time.

If you don’t treat a cavity, it can eventually reach the nerve of your tooth, which can cause severe pain and infection. In that case, you may need a root canal treatment, which is more complex and costly than a cavity filling in Pleasant Hill, CA. That’s why it’s important to have your cavities treated as soon as possible, to save you time and money in the long run.

How Long Does It Usually Take to Fill a Cavity?

The time taken to fill a cavity depends on several factors, such as the size of the cavity, the number of surfaces involved, and whether there are any complications. In general, a small cavity can take as little as 20 minutes to fill, while a large cavity can take up to an hour. Here are some of the factors that affect the time it takes to fill a cavity:

Size of the Cavity

The size of the cavity determines how much tooth decay needs to be removed and how much filling material needs to be placed. A larger cavity requires more drilling and more filling, which takes more time. A smaller cavity requires less work and less time.

For example, a large cavity that affects the entire side of a tooth may take about 30 to 45 minutes to fill, while a small cavity that only affects a tiny spot on the tooth may take about 20 minutes to fill.

Number of Surfaces Involved

The number of surfaces involved refers to how many sides of the tooth are affected by the cavity. A cavity can affect one, two, or more surfaces of a tooth, depending on where it is located. The more surfaces involved, the more time it takes to fill the cavity because more equipment and techniques are needed.

For example, a single-surface cavity that only affects the top of a tooth can be filled by hand, which takes about 20 minutes. However, a two-surface cavity that affects the top and the side of a tooth requires a special band to separate the teeth and prevent the filling from sticking to the adjacent tooth. This takes about 30 to 40 minutes to fill.

Other Factors

Besides the size and the number of surfaces of the cavity, there are other reasons that can affect the time taken to fill a cavity. These include:

  • The number of cavities: The more cavities you have, the more time it takes to fill them. For example, one cavity may take 20 to 30 minutes to fill, while three cavities may take 45 to 60 minutes to fill.
  • Complications: Sometimes, there may be complications during the tooth-filling procedure that can add extra time. For example, if the cavity is close to the nerve, the dentist near you may need to be more careful and slow down to avoid damaging the nerve. If you are hard to numb, the dentist may need to wait longer for the anesthesia to take effect or give you more injections.

What to Expect from a Tooth Filling Appointment

At Grafton Dental, we strive to make your tooth-filling appointment as comfortable and efficient as possible. Here is what you can expect from a typical tooth-filling appointment:

At Grafton Dental, our goal is to make getting a tooth filled as painless and quick as we can. Here’s what usually happens during a tooth-filling visit:

First, we’ll put a numbing cream on your gums and then give you a shot to numb the tooth and the area around it. This takes about 5 minutes.

Next, we’ll use a drill to take out the bad part of your tooth and clean it out. This part might take 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how big the cavity is.

After that, we’ll fill the hole with a material that looks like your tooth and make sure it’s shaped and smooth. This could take 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the work needed.

Lastly, we’ll check how your teeth fit together and adjust if necessary. We’ll also tell you how to take care of your new filling and keep cavities away. This last step takes about 5 minutes.

The whole procedure will take about 20 to 60 minutes, depending on the factors we mentioned above. After the appointment, you may feel some numbness for a few hours, so you should totally avoid eating or drinking anything till the numbness wears off. You may also experience some sensitivity or discomfort for a few days, which can be relieved by taking over-the-counter painkillers and avoiding hot or cold foods and drinks.

If you have a cavity or suspect you may have one, don’t hesitate to contact us at Grafton Dental. We are a family-friendly dental practice in Pleasant Hill, CA, that offers high-quality and affordable dental care. We will examine your teeth carefully and recommend the best treatment option for you. We will also make sure you are comfortable and relaxed throughout the procedure. To schedule an appointment, call us today or fill out our online form.

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