Tooth fillings

A dental filling is used to fill a cavity (a hole in your teeth caused by tooth decay) or other damage such as a chipped tooth. Cavities get bigger over time, so the sooner they’re spotted and filled, the less likely you are to have problems later. That’s why regular check-ups are important.

Without treatment, a cavity or chipped tooth can lead to toothache, bad breath, infection, and even the fracturing or loss of your tooth.

How do you know if you need a dental filling?

People of all ages, even young children, may need a tooth filling. Perhaps you have a nagging toothache, sudden pain when you bite down, or sensitivity to hot and cold. You may even have noticed a cavity, or food getting caught in a damaged tooth.

Reasons for needing a tooth filling

Dental filling procedure - what’s involved?

What kind of tooth fillings are available?

The type of treatment you need will depend on how much damage there is, and which tooth is affected. Your dentist will go through any options with you:

If the tooth cavity is very deep, or the centre of your tooth is damaged, you may need root canal treatment to avoid needing the tooth extracted. Although often called ‘root canal fillings’, these aren’t the same as a standard filling.

Woman in a dentist’s surgery talking to her dentist about having a filling.

How long does a filling last?

If you take good care of your teeth, your fillings can last for a very long time. Amalgam fillings can last up to 20 years, while composite fillings can last for around 12-15 years.

Depending on the choice of material, inlays and overlays have a lifespan of up to 20 years, but this depends on teeth specific factors which will be discussed by your dentist.

As a temporary filling is never intended to be permanent, it can last for up to three months, although your dentist will likely replace it well before then.

When can I eat and drink after a filling?

The local anaesthetic will make your gums, tongue, cheeks and even your lips feel numb for a while. Until this wears off, you may have difficulty talking, chewing and drinking. As sensation returns, you may feel some tingling.

Avoid chewing on that side for a while, partly to protect your filling but also to prevent accidentally biting yourself.

For up to a week after your tooth is filled, it may be more sensitive to cold and heat. If it gets much worse or goes on for longer, tell your dentist – this could indicate changes to the nerve, which may need treatment.

How can you avoid fillings in future?

Dental fillings are a very good way to repair tooth cavities, and they can stop toothache while preventing further tooth decay. But it’s much better to avoid tooth fillings in the first place. You can help to do this, with advice from your dental hygienist or dentist, by:

Your dentist is the best person to give you advice on how to look after your teeth.

Find your local Bupa Dental Care practice and book your next appointment.

Showing result

Show Map
Content is loading

Other ways to restore damaged teeth

Your dentist may recommend a different treatment if a filling isn’t right for your tooth.

^ We may record or monitor our calls.

Bupa Dental Care is a trading name of Oasis Dental Care Limited. Registered in England and Wales No: 00478127. Registered office: Bupa Dental Care, Vantage Office Park, Old Gloucester Road, Hambrook, Bristol, United Kingdom BS16 1GW.

Oasis Dental Care Limited has a number of trading names including Bupa Dental Care. For a list of all our different trading names please follow this link.

Content is loading