Proper oral hygiene and regular dental visits are essential for preventing cavities from forming. However, despite a patient’s best efforts, sometimes decay will form. Once decay has formed, it is necessary to treat the cavity before it worsens. If left untreated, the decay will eventually cause extensive damage to the tooth, and potentially cause the root to be infected.

The good news is that if the cavity is caught early, your dentist can treat it with a simple filling, typically done in one appointment. Composite fillings are one of the most common treatments that we offer at our Richmond dental clinic. The procedure itself is usually not very complicated and shouldn’t be too uncomfortable for the patient. In fact, if the cavity has been causing symptoms such as tooth sensitivity or pain, having the cavity filled will make the patient feel more comfortable in the long run.

Your dentist will first apply a numbing gel on the gum tissues near the site of the cavity. This is to alleviate the pinch of the needle, which will be used to apply local anesthetic. For most patients this is the most uncomfortable part of the procedure. The anesthetic will quickly begin to work to numb the area. The dentist will then use a specialized dental drill to remove the decay. The patient will likely feel some pressure or vibrations from the drill, but no pain.

After the cavity has been removed the dentist will apply a filling to prevent further decay, and to prevent the sensitive inner layers of the tooth from cold, heat or pressure. The filling is applied in layers and hardened with a special light. The final layers are shaped and polished to restore the tooth’s appearance and function.

Composite (plastic resin) is the modern filling material of choice in most cases. Unlike older style silver amalgam fillings, composite fillings closely match the color of the tooth and are virtually undetectable. Composite fillings are also mercury free and considered more durable than silver fillings.

If you think you may have a cavity, or if you are overdue for a cleaning and exam, call our Richmond dental office today to book an appointment.