Cavity fillings can sometimes be uncomfortable, however, it does not cause pain.

Your dentist will recommend fillings to treat tooth decay, to prevent further damage and tooth loss.

Moreover, it prevents the further possibility of pain and infection. Thus, a cavity filling fills and seals the hole and a cavity in the tooth.

If you are experiencing moderate to severe pain during or after the procedure, it is important to talk to your dentist.

Cavity fillings are important to prevent further damage to the tooth as they can cause infection in the pulp of the tooth.

Moreover, in later stages, it can even damage the nerve endings, thus, will lead to tooth extraction.

If you are avoiding dental checkups over concerns about pain, take a deep breath.

We have outlined all the important things you need to know about cavity fillings and what to expect in terms of pain and discomfort.

What Causes Cavities?

Plaque is a sticky substance that binds your teeth and tooth cavities forms due to this film.

It is a combination of bacteria, saliva, acid, and food particles.

Just like everyone else, you also have bacteria in your mouth. After eating or drinking foods that contain sugar, bacteria in your mouth turn it into acid.

As a result, plaque forms on your teeth soon after eating or drinking anything that contains sugary.

This is why regular brushing at least twice a day is important.

Plaque sticks to your teeth and the acid in it can slowly erode the tooth enamel.

Enamel is a hard, protective coating on your teeth that protects them against tooth decay.

However, as the enamel weakens, the risk for decay increases.

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You are at a risk for cavities, if:

You consume excess sugary or acidic foods and drinks, follow a poor oral hygiene routine like failing to brush or floss daily, dry mouth, and not getting enough fluoride.

Moreover, eating disorders like anorexia, and bulimia, and acid reflux diseases that often result in stomach acid wearing down the tooth enamel increase your risk.

Most often cavities develop in the back of your teeth or on molars.

This is because the teeth at the back of your mouth have grooves and openings that can trap food particles, and these are often harder to reach while brushing and flossing.

Cavity Fillings Types

There are some types of cavity fillings and includes:

Amalgam Fillings: Amalgam is a mixture of different metals like copper, tin, and mercury.

These filings are most often recommended for your molars as the material is durable and lasts for longer periods of time.

Composite Fillings: This material is tooth-colored and consists of resin and glass.

Glass Ionomer Fillings: The material is also the same color as your teeth, and contains powdered glass that bonds with your teeth.

The fillings release fluoride to help prevent further tooth decay.


Gold Fillings: The material is an alloy of copper, gold, and other metals.

These are the most durable fillings and lasts for 20 years or more if you take proper care of them.

It is important to note that resin-based composite and glass ionomer fillings are less durable than amalgam fillings.

However, they are also less visible and do not contain heavy metals.

According to the FDA, the Food and Dry Administrations, resin-based fillings also cost more and can shrink over time.

Thus, leading to gaps between the tooth and its filling.

Are Amalgam Cavity Fillings Safe?

It is important to note that amalgam fillings may release low concentrations of mercury vapor, particularly, during its placement and removal.

However, according to FDA, the levels of these vapors are low than those that can cause toxicity.

Moreover, according to FDA, the exposure to mercury from fillings does not lead to adverse health effects in the general population.

This includes individuals with multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, or Alzheimer’s disease.

Some individuals can have a higher risk of experiencing negative effects of these vapors, and this group includes people:

Individuals who are pregnant or planning to be, breastfeeding, younger than 6 years of age, have impaired kidney function, are allergic to amalgam cavity fillings, or have a pre-existing neurological condition.

Thus, if you are concerned about the possible side effect of amalgam cavity filling, then discuss other options with your dentist.

Additionally, FDA does not recommend having these cavity fillings replaced or removed if they are in good condition and there is no sign of decay beneath them.

Procedure for Cavity Fillings

The procedure of cavity filling is an in-office procedure. However, children with severe dental anxiety may require sedation or even general anesthesia.

Moreover, if you need to prepare for the procedure in any way, your dentist will inform you beforehand.

The procedure steps may vary, depending on the location and the material your dentist will use.

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However, the general steps are as follows:

They will begin by applying a numbing gel to your gums, and after some time, they will inject local anesthesia into the gums.

Using a drill or other specialized dental tool, they will remove the decaying area of your tooth.

They will then fill the hole in your teeth, and lastly polish the cavity filling and may also adjust it so that your bite feels normal.

However, if your dentist is using composite fillings, then they will shed a special light to ‘cure’ or harden the material.

Aftercare and Recovery

Your dentist may recommend avoiding eating or drinking until the numbing medication wears off.

This is to prevent you from accidentally biting your tongue or the insides of your cheeks.

Pain after Cavity Fillings

There can be some minor soreness or discomfort after the procedure, and certain OTC, over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help relieve it.

In other cases, pain may occur because the teeth do not fit together well due to the filling.

aftercare and recovery

This issue is called malocclusion and your dentist can correct it to prevent further discomfort.

Sensitivity after Cavity Fillings

You may experience sensitivity to hot and cold after cavity filling.

This often occurs due to minor nerve irritation, gum irritation, or inflammation due to the drilling while your dentist carries out the procedure.

However, it is important to note that these typically improve with time. If they worsen, call your dentist.

In some cases, it can result from the shrinking of a composite filling.

Contacting a Dentist after Cavity Fillings

If you experience:

  • worsening or severe pain
  • a fever
  • redness or warmth of gums
  • swelling
  • severe tooth sensitivity

Then it is important to consult your dentist.

It can be due to a number of reasons which include that you are having an allergic reaction to the filling material, reaction to anesthesia, damage to the nerve endings of your tooth, etc.

Fillings at a Lower Cost

Most often, dental care for children is often provided by the state itself. However, you may need to receive dental care depending on your insurance policy.

To make the procedure more affordable, you may consider the following:

A dental clinic with reduced costs

Some dental clinics offer dental care for free, at low cost, or on a sliding scale.

You can visit the clinic in your area or region and learn about the costs.


Dental Schools

Teaching facilities often allow the students to gain experience under the supervision of experienced dentists and they also provide care at a reduced cost.

Thus, you can also find a school using online tools.

Financing Plans

Some dentists offer a payment plan to make dental care more affordable. Moreover, they are certain dental financing organizations you can contact as well.

Replacement of the Fillings

According to the Merican Dental Association, ADA, all fillings need to be replaced after some time. This is because the material of the fillings wears down due to different reasons.

These are eating, drinking, clenching, and grinding the teeth.

Moreover, worn or damaged fillings can cause bacteria to re-enter the teeth, leading to new tooth decay and possible tooth loss.

You may not realize that your filling is wearing don, which is why it is important to visit your dentist regularly.

Final Thoughts

Cavity fillings prevent tooth decay and the possibility of tooth loss. With these, you can further reduce the damage, reducing the pain and infection, and help to maintain overall dental health.

There are different types of cavity fillings, amalgam, gold, composite, and glass ionomer, however, you can discuss different options with your dentist. Some of the types can cause an allergic reaction, therefore, you should discuss your options with your dentist before opting for any one type.

The procedure is a simple one, however, the time can vary depending on the type of filling you are going to have. After the procedure, you may experience mild sensitivity or discomfort, however, if you experience more significant pain or sensitivity, or signs of an infection, like fever or swelling, you should immediately contact your dentist.