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Step-by-Step Dental Filling Procedure: How Does It Work?

Dental Filling

Toothaches are no fun and are often a sign of a cavity. Cavities are decayed areas of your tooth caused by plaque buildup. If left untreated, cavities can grow larger and cause more pain, potentially leading to infection and tooth loss. The good news is that fillings are a common and effective dental procedure to restore your tooth’s health and function. If you’re facing a cavity and have an upcoming filling appointment, you might feel some anxiety about what to expect. This step-by-step guide will walk you through the dental filling procedure so you know exactly what to expect and feel more prepared for your visit. Dentist Surprise presents composite fillings, a reliable and visually appealing choice for rejuvenating your smile.

Dental Filling (1)

Pre-Procedure Preparation

Before the filling procedure begins, your dentist will take steps to ensure your comfort and prepare the area for treatment. Here’s what you can expect:


During your initial consultation, the dentist will examine your teeth; X-rays may be taken to assess the cavity’s depth and discuss the procedure with you. You’ll have a chance to ask questions about the filling or anesthesia.

Numbing the Area

Your dentist will likely administer a local anesthetic to minimize discomfort during the procedure. This involves injecting a numbing medication near the tooth and surrounding gum tissue. In some cases, a topical anesthetic gel might also be applied to further numb the area.

The Dental Filling Procedure

Once you’re comfortable and numb, the dentist will begin the filling procedure. Here’s a breakdown of the typical steps:

Removing Decay

The dentist will use a dental handpiece with a small drill or laser to remove the decayed portion of your tooth. The drill or laser will create a slight vibration or noise, but you shouldn’t feel any pain.

Cleaning and Shaping the Cavity

After removing the decay, the dentist will thoroughly clean the area to remove any remaining bacteria or debris. They then shape the cavity to ensure the filling material bonds properly and creates a strong foundation.

Selecting the Filling Material

Different types of filling materials are available, each with advantages and disadvantages. Your dentist will discuss the options and recommend the most suitable material for your cavity. Common filling materials include:

Composite Resin

These tooth-colored fillings are popular due to their natural appearance and ability to bond well with the tooth structure.

Amalgam (Metal Fillings) 

These durable fillings are still widely used, but their dark color makes them less aesthetically pleasing.

Glass Ionomer

These fillings may be used for smaller cavities or children’s teeth as they can release fluoride to help strengthen the tooth.

Placing the Filling Material

Depending on the chosen material, the dentist will place the filling in layers. For composite fillings, a light may be used to cure or harden each layer.

Shaping and Polishing

Once the filling is in place, the dentist will shape and polish it to ensure a smooth and comfortable bite. They will also check your bite to ensure the filling doesn’t interfere with chewing.

After Your Filling Procedure

Following your filling procedure, you may experience slight sensitivity in the area for a day or two. This is normal and can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

Here are some additional aftercare tips for your new filling:

  • Avoid chewing hard or sticky foods for the first 24 hours to allow the filling to set completely.
  • Practice good oral hygiene by brushing twice daily and flossing once a day to remove plaque and prevent future cavities.
  • Schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings as recommended by your dentist.


Dental fillings are a routine procedure that can restore a decayed tooth and prevent further damage. Understanding the steps involved and following proper aftercare instructions can ensure a smooth recovery and a healthy smile. Consult your dentist if you have any concerns about cavities or dental fillings. They can answer your questions and recommend the best treatment for your needs.

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