Did you know that one out of every four adults has a cavity? For children, the percentage is even higher. Over 50% of kids have at least one cavity in their baby teeth. 

Having the cavity filled is a simple procedure, as long as no complications arise. The question is, how long does a cavity filling take? Check out this guide to find out what you can expect. 

How Long Does a Cavity Filling Take on Average?

For the most part, fillings are a simple dental procedure that take about 20 minutes, on average, to complete. Depending on the material, you may have to go in for more than one visit. 

For example, there are some composite fillings that are created using an impression. That’s done in one visit, and the second one will involve actually bonding the filling. 

Of course, this time estimate assumes that it’s an adult in the chair. Children under the age of 5 sometimes take a little longer because they can’t sit still. The dentist will have to use anesthesia, which will take additional time. 

Factors to Consider

The material used to fill your cavity is only one factor that has a bearing on the length of the procedure. If you have more than one cavity, filling them all could take more time. 

Your dentist could also run into certain complications while filling your cavity. Solving these problems may cause you to be in the chair longer. These are only a few examples. 

Size of the Filling

Before the dentist can fill your cavity, they have to clean out the decay. This process can take a while to complete for larger cavities. On top of having more decay to clean out, filling the cavity will also take more filling and drilling. You can expect to be at the dentist for about 45 minutes. 

Smaller cavities require fewer materials to fill than larger ones, and there isn’t as much decay to contend with. You can expect it to take the standard 20 minutes. 

Number of Surfaces

If your cavity affects multiple surfaces, your dentist will need to use more equipment to fill it. If your dentist were to fill in your two-surface cavity without using the proper tools, the bonding would get stuck to the surrounding teeth. That means you would no longer be able to floss. 

To solve this issue, the dentist will have to go in with a matrix band. This could take up to 30 minutes. Filling a single surface cavity doesn’t require any extra equipment, so it will take the standard 20 minutes. 

Number of Fillings

The more cavities you have, the longer the filling procedure will take. If you only have one, it will only take 20-30 minutes. 

If you have two cavities, you’ll be in the dental chair for closer to 45 minutes. Filling three cavities could take up to an hour, and so on and so forth. 

Cavity Complications

There’s a chance that your dentist could run into a few complications while filling your cavity. If the tooth decay is deep enough to run close to the nerve, they will have to be careful with cleaning it out. 

If they attempt to clean out the decay too quickly, they could hit the nerve. This will turn your simple cavity-filling procedure into root canals. 

Before starting, your dentist will numb your mouth. They can’t start until the novocaine sets in. 

The numbing process can take longer for some than others. If your body doesn’t want to cooperate, you could be sitting around for a while. 

Setting Timeline

As stated above, how long it will take for the filling to set will depend on the material your dentist uses. 

Amalgam filings only take an hour to set, but they aren’t at full strength until 24 hours after the procedure. That means you’ll have to wait an entire day before you can enjoy hard foods again. 

Composite and glass fillings are applied in layers. It can take up to 20 seconds for each layer to set completely. 

If you’re in a rush to get out of the dentist’s office, ceramic fillings are the best option. The dentist will use a blue wavelength light to speed the process along. Thanks to this tool, ceramic fillings are set almost immediately. 

How Long Will It Take to Heal? 

As long as no complications arise, most fillings don’t take too long to heal. Once the numbing wears off, your mouth will be sensitive, but that will fade within a day or so. 

If you get a metal filling, such as gold, your mouth could suffer from cold sensitivity for several days or weeks. There are a few things that you can do to reduce sensitivity. 

Chew on the opposite side of your mouth until the filling heals. You can still brush and floss around the filling as long as you’re careful about it. Stay away from acidic foods. Eating foods that are too hot or cold could result in some pain.

Before going home from the dentist, drop by the store to pick up a desensitizing toothpaste. If you experience any pain after your filling appointment, you can get some relief by taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications. 

If your tooth sensitivity doesn’t go away after a few weeks, contact your dentist. They may need to make a few surface adjustments to the filling. 

How Long Will Your Filling Last? 

How long your filling lasts depends on the type of filling you have and how diligent you are with your oral healthcare routine. If you don’t brush and floss, new cavities will form. 

Gold fillings can last up to 20 years. Amalgam fillings won’t fall out for 25 years, and composite fillings can last up to 15 years. 

Understanding the Cavity Filling Procedure

If you have cavities, you’re not alone; many adults have one or two. How long does a cavity filling take? 

As you can see, it can vary depending on several factors. At Albee Family Dental, we’ll try to get you in and out of the office as soon as possible. Contact us today to schedule an appointment today.