Cavities, also known as dental caries, are one of the most common health problems worldwide. They occur when bacteria in your mouth turn sugar into acid, which then eats away at your teeth. If you’ve recently been told by your dentist that you have a cavity, you might be wondering what comes next. Fear not! Filling cavities is a standard procedure that helps restore your tooth to its normal function and shape. In this blog, we’ll guide you through the process of how dentists fill cavities, ensuring you know exactly what to expect.

Step 1: Diagnosis

The journey to a healthier smile begins with a proper diagnosis. During your dental check-up, your dentist uses specialized tools to examine the surfaces of each tooth. Sometimes, cavities are visible to the naked eye, but often, they’re detected through X-rays or by using a small instrument called an explorer. If a cavity is found, your dentist will discuss your options and plan the filling procedure.

Step 2: Anesthesia

The first step in the actual filling process is to ensure you’re comfortable and pain-free. Most dentists will apply a local anesthetic to numb the area around the affected tooth. This ensures that you won’t feel any discomfort during the procedure.

Step 3: Removing Decay

Once the area is numb, your dentist will remove the decayed material from the tooth using a drill, air abrasion instrument, or laser. The choice of instrument depends on the dentist’s preference, the extent of the decay, and the location of the cavity. This step is crucial as it cleans out the infection and prevents further damage.

Step 4: Preparing the Tooth

After removing the decay, the dentist will prepare the space for the filling by cleaning the cavity of bacteria and debris. If the decay is near the root, your dentist may first put in a liner made of glass ionomer, composite resin, or other material to protect the nerve. Generally, after the cavity has been cleaned, the dentist shapes the space to securely hold the filling material.

Step 5: Filling the Tooth

Now, it’s time to fill the cavity. There are several filling materials available, including gold, silver amalgam, composite resins, and porcelain. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages in terms of aesthetics, durability, and cost. Composite resins and porcelain fillings can be matched to the color of your teeth, making them less noticeable. Your dentist will discuss the best options for you based on your preferences, allergic reactions, and the location of the cavity.

Step 6: Polishing and Adjustments

After the cavity has been filled, the dentist will finish and polish the tooth. If you receive a composite resin filling, the dentist will apply the material in layers, using a light specialized to harden each layer. They will shape the composite material to fit the tooth, trim off any excess material, and polish the final restoration. Your dentist will also check your bite and make any necessary adjustments to ensure your comfort.

Step 7: Aftercare

Once your filling is complete, your mouth will likely remain numb for a few hours. Be careful not to bite your cheek, lip, or tongue. Your dentist will provide aftercare instructions, such as avoiding hot or cold foods and beverages for a short period. It’s normal to experience sensitivity to pressure, air, sweet foods, or cold temperatures after the procedure, but this should decrease over time.


Filling cavities is a routine dental procedure that plays a crucial role in maintaining oral health. By understanding the process, you can feel more relaxed and informed during your visit to the dentist. Remember, the best way to prevent cavities is through regular brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups. If you suspect you have a cavity, don’t hesitate to contact your dentist to address the issue promptly. Your smile will thank you!