A cavity is a hole or pocket in one or more of your teeth. Cavities are caused by tooth decay, which occurs when the food and drink you consume contains certain types of acid that attack your tooth enamel [the outer layer of the tooth].
In most cases, cavities on three surfaces [surfaces being defined as “the two surfaces of a tooth on either side”] can be treated with a filling rather than a crown [a dental restoration primarily used to restore a severely deteriorated or damaged tooth]. Fillings usually require more time to place than other types of restorations, such as oral hygiene techniques.
How long does it take to fill a cavity? Below is an overview of what to expect during this type of procedure.
Minimally Invasive Direct Restoration
A minimally invasive direct restoration is used to treat a cavity that affects only one surface of the tooth. The procedure usually takes less than half an hour to complete and requires numbing medication before the dentist begins working. In order to remove excess decay from around the affected area, they use a drill or handpiece [motorized tools typically powered by compressed air] with a dental burr [a small cutting tool]. After removing enough material from each side of your tooth, they place a soft filling made from a mixture of glass ionomer compound and a resin bonding agent underneath it to cover up the hole.
The dentist may choose not to use gutta per as filler material if the cavity is very small, as the addition of a resin bonding agent helps to protect your tooth against decay. Once the filling has been completed, they apply a sealant to protect it from further damage and give it a more polished appearance.
Cavities on Two or Three Surfaces
In order to treat cavities that affect two or three surfaces, you may need to have a dental restoration placed first. A dental restoration is any type of artificial structure used to replace part of your natural tooth enamel. Your dentist will use numbing medication before beginning this procedure so that you feel little or no pain during treatment.
To prepare your tooth for the filling, they must remove any excess decay using hand instruments or by using an air abrasion unit. The dentist then finishes by shaping the restored area to ensure that it matches the surrounding teeth.
The filling itself takes anywhere from 10 minutes to one hour to complete, depending on its size and location. In multiple surface cavities, a stronger material is used in order to keep your tooth as healthy as possible. Composite resins are the most common type of resin used for this purpose because they can be easily shaped and can bond onto existing teeth very well. Once completed, a dental restoration is polished with an air polisher before being sealed with a protective covering made from glass ionomer cement or resin.
Cavities Involving Root Canals
In some cases, your dentist may choose not to use fillings at all after detecting decay or infections in the tooth. The roots of your tooth are hollow and become infected if decay reaches them. The decayed tissues inside must be removed before the infection is treated with medication, which takes place over a period of around six to eight weeks. Surgery may also be required to remove larger pieces of tissue or dead bone tissue from inside your tooth.
How long does it take to fill a cavity? While this type of procedure typically takes anywhere from 10 minutes to one hour, that time will vary depending on your specific situation.