Fight Against Cavities: Does Filling A Cavity Hurt?

by | Jan 24, 2022 | Resources

A cavity is essentially a hole in your tooth caused by tooth decay. Without treatment cavities will continue  to get larger causing further tooth destruction as they can`t be cleaned   out by ordinary brushing. They can also lead to quite painful consequences and serious illnesses. 

A cavity is filled to avoid such disastrous events. Fillings can be made from composite resins or metal amalgams which replace the affected tooth structure to stop further decay, improve functionality, protect the tooth from further decay, and often can improve the appearance of your smile if decay is affecting your front teeth.

Cavity fillings generally occur with the help of a local anaesthetic. Still, Beaches Dental Mona Vale may also provide sedation options if you feel particularly anxious (or if multiple fillings are required). 

Sadly, if you wait too long to treat cavities the damage can cause an infection inside the tooth. That infection can lead to abscess formation or facial swellings if not treated. Proper dental health and a pain free mouth is essential for good quality of life. 

If you notice you have a cavity or are experiencing tooth pain, contact your dentist for an immediate appointment.

For now, let’s learn a bit more about the dental filling procedure and whether it will hurt.

What Happens When You Ignore a Cavity?

Small cavities are often easy to fill and restore but if you ignore a cavity it will get bigger and closer to the nerve of the tooth. Pain or discomfort is a sign that your tooth is into deep decay, and a possible infection may be occurring. Your pain threshold is put to the test when eating cold foods, drinking hot beverages, or chewing hard food. Deep cavities can  impact neighbouring teeth if food gets caught between them due to the hole.

Want to learn more about how to avoid cavities?

The Australian government offers recommendations for preventative strategies

How is Tooth Decay Treated?

Filling materials, typically composite resin, is put into the hole in your tooth after the decay is removed. The filling protects the affected tooth nerve from further irritation or bacteria insult. Cavity fillings can cause some temporary sensitivity as the tooth nerve settles post treatment.  The sensitivity is usually short and sharp to temperature and subsides in the days or weeks following treatment . Cavity fillings should be checked regularly to ensure you are cleaning around them correctly. Otherwise, new cavities may form around the filling, which could eventually lead to deeper decay and infection.


A dentist will perform your cavity filling during a convenient appointment at the dentist’s office. 

You can get a local anaesthetic to feel pain-free throughout the restorative procedure. Once numbed the tooth is cleaned and the decay is removed from the tooth. A filling is then placed to restore the tooth. Your newly filled tooth may experience some sensitivity post treatment.

What Other Treatments are Available?

Do not avoid treating your cavities out of fear that dental fillings hurt. Other treatments could be much more extensive than just a filling.  Using a local anaesthetic makes for a more comfortable experience. You should not experience discomfort during the procedure after the numbing has taken effect. Any post op sensitivity usually will go away within a few days. After your filling, your teeth will be stronger and less vulnerable to continued decay and fracture..

Fluoride Treatments

Fluoride helps protect teeth from early decay and has a remineralising effect.  It can even be used to remineralise early decay lesions. A fluoride treatment will help with preventing cavities by strengthening your teeth and making them more resistant to decay. Dental fillings may contain fluoride or have a fluoride base under them. This fluoride is there to help protect and strengthen the tooth from further decay.


Dental crowns are a viable alternative to tooth fillings when large amounts of tooth structure has been lost. The crown itself cannot suffer from cavities but decay can still affect the margins if not kept clean. A crown helps prevent cavities and reduce fracture risk and is the preferred response to treat large areas of decay  or cracked teeth.

Root Canals

A root canal is a  dental procedure to treat an infected tooth. . This treatment is one of the last resorts, next to permanently removing the affected tooth. Dental fillings are less invasive  than root canals. Root canals were once thought to be  very painful experiences but modern technologies make it a less stressful experience.


You should view tooth extraction as a last resort option. 

If you cannot save the tooth, your dentist will pull it instead. Options are available for a temporary or permanent replacement tooth. Risks exist when you do not put replacement teeth in place of the pulled ones. These include tooth movement or trouble eating with multiple gaps. 

If a tooth is extracted, your dentist may offer you replacements, including Dental Implants and Bridges.

Does Filling a Cavity Hurt?

While there was once a time when getting a filling was an extremely painful procedure, this is no longer the case. With the application of a local anaesthetic and under the hands of your trusted dentist, you can have a filling installed and barely feel a thing. However, minor pain and discomfort may occur over the following few days.

If you feel anxious about having a filling, please talk to your dentist. They can talk you through the details of the procedure and provide you with the necessary care you need to feel confident. 

What to Expect During the Procedure?

Having a dental filling is a relatively straightforward procedure:

  • The cavity is thoroughly cleaned to ensure the filling does not trap anything that may cause further decay.
  • A filling is placed into the cavity and moulded to provide structure and functionality.

How Do I Prevent Getting Cavities?

Preventing future cavities and tooth decay means having proper oral hygiene. Aim to brush twice daily and floss every day. You need to visit your dentist for a complete cleaning session and check up at least twice a year. Based on these, your dentist may advise that you need more regular treatments until your teeth feel and look better. 

For best results, follow this advice:

  • Don’t eat hard to chew or very hard  foods too often
  • Eat sweet and sugary,  foods in moderation
  • Go to the dentist on the first sign of a cavity
  • Watch for teeth grinding and seek help if needed

Get Your Tooth Filled

Tooth fillings are effective and serve a purpose. The process only takes an hour or so at the dentist’s office. Even if you have a deep cavity, fillings generally hurt much less. Most patients report a renewed sense of comfort and confidence to eat on their teeth after fixing a toothy with a filling. . Dental fillings may be sensitive  during recovery, but this is only temporary as the tooth settles  and helps to prevent you from facing much worse dental pain in the future.

Your teeth and gums need a regular dental checkup. Contact your dentist immediately if you think you may have a cavity or have not had a checkup in the last six months. After getting help, make sure to follow any advice to prevent future cavities.