Cavity Fillings 101

Cavity Fillings 101

Cavities, also known as dental caries or tooth decay, are typically diagnosed during routine oral exams. However, they may also be discovered during emergency dental appointments if they are severe enough to cause pain. If your dentist determines that you have a cavity, he or she will treat it with a filling. Here’s a quick look at what you can expect.


If the cavity is discovered during a routine exam, you may be able to get it treated during the same appointment. If you’ve never had a cavity filled before, feel free to ask any questions or share your concerns. To prepare you for the procedure, the dentist will thoroughly numb the area with a local anesthetic. It’s common to use a topically applied anesthetic first, followed by an injectable one to ensure your comfort.


When the area is numb, a drill is used to gently remove all of the decayed and infected material from the tooth. Otherwise, the infection could continue to spread. Then, your dentist will shape the area to get it ready to receive the filling. For example, the dentist may add a liner or base to protect the pulp of the tooth. The tooth may also be etched to create stronger bond. When the tooth is ready, the dentist adds the filling material. The filling is shaped and smoothed, and a special laser is used to cure the material.


You can expect to return to your usual activities right away. However, you shouldn’t eat anything until your mouth is no longer numb. This is because you might inadvertently chew on your cheek or tongue. It should only take a few hours for the numbness to wear off. Some patients may have tooth sensitivity. This should wear off over the next one to two weeks.

At the office of John R. Carson, DDS, patients of all ages can receive a complete spectrum of dentistry services. We do it all, from cavity fillings and sealants to teeth whitening and crowns. New and current patients in the Tucson area can call our office at (520) 514-7203.