Even in the most developed countries, dental health is in steady decline. Cavities are among the most prevalent oral health issues in America, affecting nearly 90% of adults aged 20 and older. Despite the obvious, desperate need for dental treatments, almost 60% of the population won’t get the help they need due to crippling dental anxiety.
Dr. Thomas Hernandez and our team at Heritage Dental in Houston, Texas, know how frightening it can be to have dental work done, so we’re giving you a sneak peek into one of our most routine procedures, helping you know what to expect before you step foot in our office.
Here’s a closer look at a typical filling appointment.
Preparing for your appointment
Because the procedure is minimally invasive, cavity fillings don’t require any pre-procedure prep, and you should feel free to brush and floss as you normally would before your appointment. If you’re particularly nervous about your filling, we recommend scheduling your appointment earlier in the morning, so you don’t have to worry about it all day.
Talk to Dr. Hernandez about other ways to manage your dental anxiety, such as listening to music through headphones during your appointment or using a hand signal that lets us know when you need a break.
Filling a cavity typically takes less than an hour, but it could take a little longer, depending on the severity of the decay.
Arriving at your appointment
Once you arrive at the office, you’ll be greeted by our friendly staff and checked in. We call you back once Dr. Hernandez and our staff are ready and have you sit comfortably in one of our dental chairs.
Prepping your tooth
The first thing Dr. Hernandez does is prep your teeth and gums by numbing the treatment area. Our main goal is to keep you as comfortable as possible during your filling, so we apply a topical numbing gel to your gum tissue before injecting a local anesthetic. This makes the treatment area completely numb and ensures that you won’t feel anything as Dr. Hernandez works.
Treating your tooth
We give the anesthetics a couple of minutes to kick in and check with you to make sure you’re ready to start. Once you’re ready, we begin removing the decay, debris, and damage in your tooth with special dental tools.
Because of the sound of the tools, this can be one of the most uncomfortable parts of the filling process, but it typically only lasts a few minutes. Then, Dr. Hernandez gently cleans and sterilizes your tooth, clearing the way for the filling.
Filling your tooth
Before administering the filling substance, Dr. Hernandez applies an adhesive material to your tooth to keep the filling in place. We use composite resin fillings to seal the cavity completely. Unlike other fillings, which use metal, this type of filling is tooth-colored, so no one will know you had a cavity filled when you talk, laugh, or smile.
We use a curing light to harden and strengthen the filling quickly, and then Dr. Hernandez carefully polishes and smoothes it down to match the shape of your other teeth.
After your appointment
The first few hours following your appointment, the treatment area will be numb. We recommend avoiding eating or chewing gum until you regain feeling to avoid biting down on your cheek and lips.
You may feel some soreness or irritation at the treatment site after the anesthetics have worn off, but these side effects are mild and temporary. You can use a cold compress or some over-the-counter pain medication to ease your discomfort.
Caring for your fillings
Fillings are meant to last for years with proper oral hygiene and regular checkups. Some factors like excessive chewing, injury, or teeth grinding and clenching can shorten their lifespan and require you to come back to our office to replace them.
If you notice signs of damaged fillings, don’t hesitate to call our office as a damaged filling can cause other oral health problems, including cracked teeth and infection.
If you’d like more information or have questions about an upcoming appointment, call our office or request an appointment online today.