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A filling is a dental process to restore the function and integrity of missing tooth structure. To treat a cavity, your dentist may remove the decayed portion of a tooth and then “fill” the area on the tooth where the decayed material was removed. A filling is also used to repair cracked or broken teeth, as well as teeth that have been worn down from misuse such as from tooth grinding or nail-biting.

The first step involved in filling a tooth is to use a local anesthetic to numb the area around the tooth being filled. Next, the decayed area will be removed through an air abrasion instrument or laser. Once all decay is removed, the cavity will be cleaned of bacteria and debris.

A filling will then be applied, and the next step is for the dentist to finish and polish it.

A number of different types of materials might be used as a filling and the type of filling used might depend upon a number of factors, including:

  • the location and extent of decay,
  • the cost of filling material,
  • the patient’s insurance coverage, and
  • your dentist’s recommendation as to the right filling for you.