Usually, there are two outcomes when you go to the dentist. You can hear you’re all fine (although you’re definitely meant to floss more) and they’ll see you in six months or you’ll hear the dreaded word … cavity.

Don’t worry, you’re not on your own. Nearly 90% of people in their lives had a cavity. Your dentist will be able to take care of the cavity relatively quickly and easily by putting in a filling. So, if you’re one of those people who’ve had or have a cavity at the moment, here’s all you need to know about fillings.

What is filling

Very simply, a filling is exactly what it sounds like. It is a material used to fill a hole or “cavity” in your tooth. These holes can be caused by tooth decay, cracking from grinding your teeth or some other sort of trauma.

Filling in the hole slows or stops the growth of the cavity so the tooth can resume normal function. If left untreated, bacteria can grow. Once that bacteria reach the inside, or “root”, of the tooth, you will need to have a more involved procedure called a root canal.

What are the fillings made from?

There are 5 major types of filling used by dentists today. Each has its own plusses and minuses. Your dentist will usually recommend 1 or 2 options based on a number of factors. The 5 types are:

  1. Cast Gold fillings – very strong and durable but will cost a lot more than some other options and will take at least two visits to put in.
  2. Silver fillings (also known as Amalgams) – strong, durable and not that expensive but are very visible in the mouth and can lead to cracks and fractures in the tooth down the line.
  3. Tooth-colored composites – these fillings are hard to see in the mouth and bond to your tooth for extra stability. They are expensive though and tend to last 1/3 – ½ the time of gold or silver fillings.
  4. Ceramic – resistant to staining and last a very long time but are just as expensive as gold fillings.
  5. Glass ionomer – used for fillings below the gum line and with young children, this filling releases fluoride to prevent further tooth decay. It is a weaker material though, prone to wear and breakage.

What happens when you get a filling?

First, the dentist will give you an anesthetic to numb the area. After that comes the drill. The doctor will use a drill or laser to remove the decayed part of the tooth. Once the decay is removed, the dentist will clean the area to prepare it for the filling.

After those steps, the dentist will put in the filling. From there the last steps are to finish and polish the tooth. During this process, the dentist has to be very careful the filling sits down in the tooth and doesn’t alter the patient’s bite. If it does alter the bite, it can lead to things like discomfort, pain, and headaches.


We all hope to hear that we are doing well when we go to the dentist but the truth is sometimes we aren’t. In those cases, getting your cavity filled will put you back on track for oral health. Now that you know everything you need to know about fillings, the process shouldn’t be so daunting! Give us a call at (480) 867-1727 to schedule an appointment today.