Is a Dental Filling Painful?

If you’re worried about getting a dental filling, it may be because you’re unfamiliar with the process. What can you expect along the way? Does it hurt to get a filling?

Studies show that dental anxiety elevates when patients expect to be in pain. We believe that transparent patient education can change that. Check out this guide to learn how fillings work and what to expect from the process.

Do Dental Fillings Hurt?

Getting a dental filling can hurt, but it’s not guaranteed to hurt. The prime complaint we hear from most of our patients is not about pain at all. Rather, they don’t like the noise of the machine, the taste of the numbing solution or having to hold their jaw open for minutes at a time.

These are all manageable matters that we strive to make as painless as possible. Most dentists will numb the area around the filling prior to the procedure, so you won’t even feel what’s going on in the moment. The gums get pre-numbed before the numbing injection, so you likely won’t even feel that!

Nevertheless, we want to be upfront about the possible discomfort so you can be prepared for it.

What to Expect When Getting a Dental Filling

The process for getting a filling varies slightly by age and filling material, but here’s a general overview of what to expect:

  1. The dental assistant will dry and numb the area with a topical gel around your gums. This dulls the nerves so the next step doesn’t hurt.
  2. Once the numbing gel has set in, the dentist will inject a local anesthetic to further numb the site of the filling.
  3. After the anesthetic goes into effect (about 10 minutes) the dental assistant will prep you for the filling. This may include a device used to prop your mouth open and block your tongue from the area.
  4. The dentist will use a drill to remove the decay. You may listen to music if the sound of the drill bothers you.
  5. The dentist will clean out the hold and sterilize it. In the case of a deep filling, the dentist may insert a liner to protect the pulp/nerve inside your tooth.
  6. The dentist will install the filling, smooth it off, and check your bite to see if everything aligns properly.
  7. The dental assistant will clean out any lingering debris and get you ready to head out!

How Long Does It Take to Get a Filling?

Most fillings only take about 30 minutes to complete, but it largely depends on the location and severity of the cavity. If the cavity is in a difficult-to-reach area, it may take a little longer to construct. If it’s fairly large, it will take longer for the materials to cure.

After your dentist appointment, you will likely be instructed not to eat for an hour or two. This first meal should be soft food, such as mashed potatoes or ground beef. Later on in the day, you can eat like normal. It may take a few hours for the numbing solution to wear off.

Once the numbness has subsided, you may feel some mild discomfort around the tooth or gums near your filling. This is only temporary, and many patients experience no discomfort at all.

Why You Shouldn’t Leave a Cavity Untreated

Cavities don’t go away on their own. They only get worse with time. The longer a cavity is left untreated, the higher the risk of pain. In fact, you may find yourself susceptible to a tooth infection, which can cause rapid and excruciating pain.

Don’t let the fear of dental filling discomfort put you at risk of far worse issues moving forward. It’s best to treat these issues at the earliest signs. Learn more: How Tooth Decay Happens

Schedule a Dental Checkup for Tooth Decay Prevention

The best way to treat, monitor and prevent tooth decay is with daily oral care and routine dental appointments. Brush twice a day, floss once, and see your dentist once or twice a year.

Clinton Dental Center is currently accepting new patients. We offer pediatric dentistry, general dentistry, cosmetic dentistry and restorative dentistry all under one roof. Give us a call at (586) 949-5363 to schedule your teeth cleaning and oral checkup.