Cavities are one of the most common oral health problems. In fact, about 92% of adults in the U.S. get at least one cavity in a permanent tooth during their lifetime. Caused by a build-up of plaque, which is a sticky film of bacteria and sugars on the teeth, cavities are one of the early signs of tooth decay. Fixing cavities with dental fillings is a time-tested way to stop the decay before it gets worse and leads to serious oral health complications.
Most cavities are detected during your twice-yearly dental exams, but if you’ve missed a regular appointment and a cavity has been left untreated, it can present symptoms that indicate you need a check-up. You might need to get a dental filling if:
If you experience any of these symptoms between regular dental check-ups, it’s important to schedule an emergency or urgent dental appointment to get a filling instead of waiting until your next appointment. The longer you wait, the larger the cavity will get, which may eventually result in the need for a root canal or even tooth extraction.
Once your dentist has determined that you have a cavity, the first step is numbing around the affected tooth with topical anesthetic followed by a shot of lidocaine in the gums. You most likely won’t feel the needle because the area will already be numb from the topical gel.
After the lidocaine fully numbs the area, the dentist will use a drill or laser to remove the damaged and decayed area from the tooth, followed by a specialized cleansing gel to ensure that the area is thoroughly cleaned.
The next step is filling the area with your choice of dental filling material, followed by adhesives and composite material to protect and seal it.
Lastly, a bonding light might be used for several seconds to harden the material, and the dentist will conclude the procedure by smoothing out any rough edges and polishing the tooth to bright shine.
There are several types of dental filling materials available, and while all of them effectively fill cavities and prevent further decay, they have different advantages.
Your dentist can help you select the dental filling material best suited to your diagnosis, aesthetic goals, and budget. You can even request more than one type, such as composite on lower teeth (which will match surrounding teeth) and amalgam on the upper teeth, which are less visible when talking and eating.
Because dental fillings are an essential dental treatment, most insurance policies will cover at least a portion of the costs. The total cost will vary by dentist and will depend on the type of filling material used.
In general, composite resin fillings cost between $90 and $250 per tooth, while silver amalgam fillings cost between $50-$150 per tooth. Ceramic fillings start at around $250 per tooth. If you don’t have dental insurance, most dental offices have financing plans set up to help you pay for the fillings over time.
If you have a cavity, don’t wait to get it treated. The longer you wait, the more likely it is that the decay will spread and cause damage beyond what a dental filling can address. To set up a consultation, call Smile Designers at t (619) 222-6000 .