Cavities and fillings

WHAT IS A CAVITY?

A cavity (or decay) is a hole that develops in the tooth due to bacteria. The bacteria produce acid, weakening the surface of the tooth until the outer layer completely collapses or dissolves.

WHAT IS A FILLING?

A filling helps worn, damaged or decayed teeth to last longer in both adults and children. Fillings may be either white and made of materials that can be ‘stuck’ to the tooth surface; some of which release fluoride to help reduce further decay. Other fillings may be silver (amalgam) which are made from a mixture of silver alloy and mercury; these fillings are generally no longer used.

WHY FILL YOUR TOOTH?

A good quality filling will hopefully prevent more expensive and invasive dental procedures by saving the tooth and preventing further damage due to bacteria and decay.

WHAT HAPPENS DURING THE TREATMENT?

Most breaks and cavities only require one appointment to repair the damaged tooth with a filling. The average appointment is between 30 and90 minutes. The area of the tooth may be numbed by local anaesthetic depending on the severity of the damage. If decay is present, it is removed with drilling and other tools. The tooth is then cleaned, washed and dried so that filling material can be bonded in, and the tooth restored.

COSTS

White filling: $200-350

ASK YOUR INEEDA DENTIST

Are there any options that may be longer lasting than a filling? Depending on the severity of the damage, some procedures such as a crown or even tooth extraction may be a better long-term option for you. If the filling required is large, it may cause the tooth to break. In situations requiring a larger filling, a crown offers more protection for the tooth.

RISKS OF LOCAL ANAESTHETIC

Damage to the lips and cheeks: due to biting or rubbing the numb area.

Failure of local anaesthetic: may require further injections of a different method of anaesthesia

Bruising: usually experienced in those who take blood-thinning drugs.

Nerve damage: usually temporary and rarely permanent, though may last from weeks to months.

Infection: uncommon but can be treated with antibiotics.

Allergy: rare and requires immediate medical attention. Always inform your dentist of any allergies you may have.