Nowadays people are busier than ever. So when your dentist tells you that you need to have a dental filling placed, you may be wondering how you are going to fit that into your already busy schedule. Of course, fitting it into your schedule means that you will need to have a rough idea of how long dental fillings take.
Since dental fillings are one of the most commonly performed dental procedures, this means that your dentist has perfected the art of effectively and quickly placing them. In most cases, a single dental filling can be placed in about 20 minutes to an hour. The exact time it takes to place a filling will depend on a few key factors such as the type of filling, size of the cavity, and the dental material being used.
There are two different types of fillings that your general dentist can perform. The first is called a direct filling. They are called direct fillings because the procedure can be entirely completed inside the mouth with a single dental appointment. The other type of filling is known as an indirect filling, also referred to as inlays and onlays. Unlike direct fillings, indirect fillings cannot be completed entirely inside the mouth and usually require more than one dental appointment.
The next thing that will need to be considered is the size of the cavity being filled. Smaller cavities being treated with a direct filling can generally be filled closer to the 20 minute mark, while slightly larger cavities will require more direct filling material and can take longer to complete. Additionally, large cavities that cover the entire chewing surface, as well as one or more of the tooth’s points, require an inlay or onlay. Because inlays or onlays are indirect fillings fabricated in a dental lab, they generally require two appointments to place.
The final consideration is the type of dental material being used for the filling. Direct fillings can be completed with silver amalgam or composite resin. Silver amalgam may take slightly longer to place because more preparation is required before it can be placed, whereas composite resin requires less prep, while also requiring multiple layers. Indirect fillings are generally fabricated from gold or porcelain, but both will need to be fabricated in a dental lab. Therefore, the time it takes to place an indirect filling is about the same despite the dental material.
Now that we’ve examined the different considerations for time variances, let’s take a look at the basic procedure used to place a dental filling. The first step is to numb the affected area using a dental anesthetic. Although the anesthetic injection can cause a brief stinging sensation, the rest of the procedure is painless due to the anesthetic.
Once the area is numb, your dentist will begin by using a dental drill to remove the decayed tissue. Then, the remaining cavity will be shaped according to the type of dental filling. In the case of direct fillings, silver amalgam will require the removal of more natural tissue than composite resin. If an indirect filling is being placed, then a dental impression will be taken once the decayed tissue has been removed. This information will be sent to a dental lab so the inlay or onlay can be fabricated. A second appointment will then be needed to adhere the final filling to the tooth.
As you can see, there are various factors that can affect how long it takes to have a dental filling placed. Although most fillings can be placed in an average of 20 minutes to an hour, this timeframe can change based on the type of filling, size of the cavity, and the dental materials being used for the filling. Prior to having a filling placed, all these things will be discussed in order to give you a better idea of just how long your filling procedure is anticipated to take.
Dr. Stephen Clark graduated from Northwestern Dental School in 1969 and earned his California Dental License in 1970. During his over 50 years serving the Long Beach area, he has provided effective dental care to many citizens.