Filling a cavity is one of the most common procedures a dentist performs. The process has been refined and nearly perfected to the point that it is usually a non-invasive experience with a very quick recovery time.
However, fillings also are the cause of fear and anxiety for many people. Much of this fear stems from a lack of knowledge and what is unknown to the patient.
Do cavity fillings hurt?
Here’s the short answer: No. Most fillings cause little to no discomfort during any part of the procedure. This is a result of using highly effective numbing agents.
Numbing The Pain
Your dentist will use a local anesthetic (such as lidocaine, benzocaine or epinephrine) that will numb your tooth, gum and jaw. These agents will stop nerves from sending any pain signals from your mouth to your brain so it doesn’t hurt when the dentist starts to drill. There may be a small amount of discomfort that feels like a slight sting, but that is actually a sign that the anesthetic is working.
Pain And Recovery Tips
The recovery time for typical fillings is rather brief – only a couple of days. During this time, you can experience some mild pain and discomfort, caused by the nerve adjusting to the new filling in your tooth. It is also common to experience some soreness in your gums and jaw. Ultimately, all of these side effects are typically mild and shouldn’t cause any hindrance to normal life. Much of this pain can be alleviated by an over-the-counter pain reliever.
In addition, you can mitigate – and even avoid – pain during your recovery by following these simple tips.
1. Avoid Extreme Food and Drink Temperatures:
Because your tooth has just experienced some minor drilling, it is on high alert and doesn’t want to be bothered again. This means that the affected tooth will be very sensitive to cold and hot foods and liquids. During your recovery, it is best to drink room temperature water and avoid any extreme temperatures.
2. Soft Foods Are Best:
Another recovery tip is to avoid putting pressure on your affected tooth. It is best to give that side of your mouth a break for a little while by avoiding clenching or grinding your teeth. In this same vein, it is better to eat soft foods during this brief time of recovery. Chips, raw vegetables and other foods that take a lot of chewing may irritate your tooth or even damage the new filling.
3. Do Not Try To Swallow The Pain Away:
This last tip is a little odd; however, it addresses a common temptation that people have when experiencing pain. For some, “tonguing” (aggressively licking your teeth with your tongue) and sucking the affective tooth is an innate reaction to the soreness and pain that they are experiencing in their mouth. This practice will only cause more discomfort and irritation.
If your teeth continue to hurt for more than a week – or if the pain intensifies to a significant level – it may be an indication of an infection or other complication.
Why Risk It? Fillings Are Better Than The Alternative
If you are still worried about getting a filling, it may help to understand why one would get a filling in the first place. We get fillings because we have cavities. Cavities are decayed areas in teeth, which appear as tiny holes on the surface of the tooth. They are caused by acids emitted from bad bacteria called plaque that cling to your teeth and feed on food debris left in your mouth after meals.
If cavities are not filled and go unchecked, the decay can become so severe that it reaches the nerve within the bone and causes unbearable pain. If the cavity grows and reaches the gum, this too can cause great pain and even infection – eventually killing the tooth altogether.
Once cavities have reached this point, the necessary treatments intensify to root canals and extractions. The pain caused by these procedures is far greater than a filling. As a result, a filling is always the best option with the least side effects.
Treating oral health problems and filling cavities does not have to be a fear-inducing experience. At Summer Dental, our highly qualified and compassionate dental specialists can take care of all of your dental needs. If you need a cavity filled, schedule an appointment with our in-house specialists at Summer Dental in Las Vegas. Same day appointments are available today by calling (702) 852-2829.