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Cavity Fillings

What is a tooth cavity filling?

Fillings are a restorative dental treatment, used when a tooth has been damaged or has decayed. They are called cavity fillings because the procedure involves removing the decay or the damaged area of a tooth, which leaves behind a hole – or cavity – that needs to be filled to protect the rest of the tooth.

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The tooth cavity filling process

A tooth cavity filling treatment will start with you being given local anaesthetic to numb your mouth so that you don’t experience any pain during the procedure. This anaesthetic is usually administered with a needle, directly into the gum in the affected area. It generally takes just a few minutes to take effect.

The decayed or damaged area of the tooth is then removed, usually with a dental drill, to make sure that no bacteria remains. The filling is then placed into the cavity. For amalgam fillings, the process usually takes just minutes to complete. For white fillings, where separate layers of filling material are added in stages, the cavity filling time may be significantly longer.

What colour are cavity fillings?

If you are getting treated under the NHS, your dentist will offer the type of filling that they believe is clinically needed for your individual circumstances. You will generally receive a filling made from amalgam (silver coloured), although may be offered a ‘tooth-coloured’ composite if it’s a front tooth cavity filling. If you choose private dental treatment, you can opt for a white cavity filling, which are usually a little more expensive.

Potential problems or risks with tooth cavity fillings

Whilst most fillings are carried out with no problems at all, if your dentist performs the procedure poorly, there are a number of potential issues that may result.

Whilst it’s normal to notice mild sensitivity after a cavity filling treatment, for a day or two afterwards at most, this sensitivity should disappear on its own. If the problem doesn’t go away after a few days or gets worse, it could be a sign that there is another issue that needs further treatment.

If the bacteria in the affected tooth was not all removed before the filling was placed, this can result in an infection or in the filling failing and falling out. If you do have an infection, you will sometimes notice pain in the area, along with a swollen and pus-filled cavity. If you notice any of these signs, it’s important that you go and see a dentist as soon as possible. If your dentist failed to carry out the procedure properly, and you have suffered as a result of this, you may be able to claim compensation for what has happened to you. Contact us for more information and to find out if you have a claim for a bad cavity filling and any resulting injury.

Can cavity fillings come out?

Fillings can sometimes come out and there may be several different reasons for this. A newly placed filling may come out if it hasn’t had time to harden properly before the patient next eats. A filling could also come out if the tooth that is filled decays further or is damaged in another way, and the filling no longer has a solid foundation. Losing a filling doesn’t necessarily mean that your dentist was at fault when the procedure was carried out, but a filling that wasn’t done to a good standard in the first place will have a greater chance of failing. If you think that your dentist let you down and you have suffered as a result, you may be eligible to sue them and receive compensation.

What is the cost of filling a cavity?

The tooth filling price will depend on several different factors. If your treatment is done on the NHS, the cost of a filling falls under Band 2 treatment. You can find out the current costs of each band of NHS treatment, and what procedures are included in the bands, by clicking here.

If you have a cavity filled by a private dentist, the cost will vary, depending on what that specific dentist or practice charges, and what type of filling it is. Your dentist should discuss the cost of treatment with you before going ahead with a filling procedure.

Can you have wisdom tooth cavity fillings?

If you have a wisdom tooth that is not causing you any problems other than requiring a filling, it’s likely that your dentist will recommend a cavity filling for that tooth, as they would for any of your other teeth. However, depending on the individual situation for that specific tooth, a filling may not be the best long-term treatment option for you and a repair might not be possible. Your dentist should discuss the treatment plan that they recommend for your wisdom tooth with you so that you understand the options and any risks involved.

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