How Long Does a Dentist Filling Take?

How Long Does a Dentist Filling Take?

Dental fillings are up there with root canals as procedures that make many people, especially younger patients, reluctant to see the dentist. It’s natural to want to get it over with as quickly as possible! This is why how long a dentist’s filling takes is a common question among patients of all ages.

The good news for anyone with anxiety about undergoing a dental filling is that today procedures have become quicker and easier than ever before. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about fillings, including how long they take, common materials used, insurance coverage, and recovery.

Normal Procedure Length of Dental Fillings

The length of a dental filling procedure can depend on the size and location of the cavity, the type and complexity of the procedure, and sometimes the patient’s cooperation. A routine and straightforward dental filling can take 30 minutes to an hour to complete.

Larger or more complex cavities can require a longer filling process. Complications or additional treatment, such as a root canal, can also extend the procedure time.

Dental Filling Materials

There are several different filling materials that dentists can use for a filling. Two of the most common options include:

  • Composite Fillings: These are the most common fillings. Composite fillings can closely match tooth color for a more discreet appearance. In addition, composite resin can fill in decayed, broken, chipped, or worn teeth.
  • Glass Ionomer Fillings: These fillings, made from glass and acrylic, are commonly used for problems below the gum line. Glass ionomer fillings release fluoride, shielding the tooth from further decay, but are weaker than composite and more prone to wear fracture.

Your dentist can discuss options for fillings and which one may work best for you or your child.

Steps for Dental Filling Procedures

Most dental procedures follow these steps performed by the dentist:

  • Administer local anesthesia to numb the area around the tooth
  • Remove the decayed part of the tooth using a drill or other instruments
  • Apply the filling material to restore the tooth’s shape and function
  • Gently shape, polish, and adjust the filling

Dental Filling Recovery and Healing

Your dentist will provide detailed instructions for recovery from the filling. For most patients, numbness caused by the local anesthesia should wear off within a few hours. Medication may be recommended to reduce pain depending on the patient’s age, and the length and complexity of the procedure. It is important to supervise patients for the first 24 hours in case there are complications.

After a filling, patients shouldn’t drink hot or cold liquids or eat on the side of the mouth with the new filling. Sensitivity to hot and cold is typical in the first few weeks after getting a tooth filled. If sensitivity persists or severe pain develops, please inform your dentist. You or your child can continue to brush and floss normally.

Dental Fillings and Insurance Coverage

In most cases, dental insurance will cover fillings, usually 70% to 80% of the cost after meeting a deductible. Insurance coverage varies depending on specific insurance plans.

It’s important to review your dental insurance policy or contact your insurance provider directly to understand the details of your coverage, including any limitations, waiting periods, or exclusions that may apply to dental fillings or other dental treatments. Additionally, dentist’s offices can answer questions, help you understand your coverage, and estimate out-of-pocket costs.

Warning Signs of Cavities

One of the most significant factors affecting the length and complexity of a dental filling procedure is the severity of the cavity. By understanding causes, catching cavities as early as possible, and taking action, you or your child will not need as long or complex of a filling procedure. Warning signs of cavities to watch for include:

  • Increased tooth sensitivity
  • Mild tooth pain or toothache
  • Pain when biting down
  • Visible holes or pits in the teeth
  • Staining on the surface of the tooth, including yellow, brown, black, or white spotting

Of course, the number one way to avoid a filling is to prevent them in the first place! Practicing good oral hygiene and seeing your dentist regularly are some of the best preventive measures. Your dentist can also talk to you about preventative treatments such as topical fluoride and dental sealants.

Keep Your Family’s Teeth Healthy with the Help of Florida Children’s Dentistry

Going to the dentist can be scary — we get it. But it should be fun! Whether it’s care for baby teeth, big kid teeth, oral surgery, or orthodontics, our team of specialized pediatric dentists make the experience memorable while teaching you how to encourage healthy habits and good hygiene for lifelong smiles. Call us today or request an appointment online. We can’t wait to meet you!