Fillings Specialist

Northwest Dental

General Dentists located in Arlington, WA

Between 2011 and 2014, almost one in five children and one in three adults had untreated cavities. Serious consequences can occur if tooth decay isn’t treated, regardless of age. Book an appointment at one of the Washington locations of Northwest Dental -- Bellingham, Burlington, Arlington, Everett, or Oak Harbor -- to make sure any cavities you or your family may have are corrected with tooth fillings.

Fillings Q & A

What is the difference between tooth decay, cavities, and dental caries?

They all mean the same thing. Dental caries is the clinical name for an erosion of tooth enamel, which is the hard surface of your teeth. When the enamel is eroded, a tiny opening forms that allow bacteria in, which leads to tooth decay, which is also called a cavity.

How are cavities treated?

To some degree the treatment your Northwest Dental professional chooses will depend on the extent of tooth decay present. The most common treatment is tooth fillings, which are sometimes called restorations.

There are various types of materials that can be used for fillings, including composite resin, porcelain, and dental amalgam. The dentist discusses your options, along with the pros and cons of each type.

What happens if a cavity is left untreated?

Cavities are so common that they may not seem like a serious problem. However, without treatment, you may experience a number of unpleasant side effects, such as pain, tooth abscess, swelling, difficulty chewing, tooth breakage, or tooth loss.

Can tooth decay be prevented?

There are steps you can take to avoid needing a tooth filling. Here are a few preventive measures:

  • Regular checkups at Northwest Dental
  • Brush and floss at least twice a day
  • Dental sealants
  • Consumption of fluoride (drink tap water)
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Consider antibacterial treatments

Does it hurt to get a tooth filling?

One of the first things your Northwest Dental dentist does when you’re getting a filling is numb the surrounding areas of your mouth near the tooth being filled, first using a topical cream, then with an injection. Using nitrous oxide is an option, too.

The use of anesthetic prevents you from feeling pain. Once your mouth is completely numb, the dentist may place a rubber dam in your mouth to prevent liquid or bits of the tooth from going down your throat. Then the decay is removed and filling material is placed in the tooth.

Your mouth will likely remain numb for a few hours following the procedure, and you may experience some soreness or sensitivity. The tooth may be more sensitive to hot or cold, but any sensitivity or pain should be short-lived. If it continues, you should contact Northwest Dental to make sure there are no unusual complications.