Dental fillings are used to treat tooth decay (cavities). It is vital to treat tooth decay early to prevent more serious tooth damage that can ultimately lead to damage of the nerve and other conditions that can require more complex and invasive treatment including, root canals or extraction of teeth.
Dental fillings are often times referred to as dental restorations because in essence, while treating the underlying tooth decay or damage, it also restores the integrity of the tooth back to a more normal, functionable state. Fillings can also be used to treat chipped or broken teeth.
The actual filling procedure works as such: the first step is to numb the area of the mouth that is going to be worked on, using a safe, fast-acting local anesthetic (lidocaine). This is an important step to ensure that minimal, if any, pain is felt during the procedure. Next, a dental drill is used to clean out the area of tooth decay, leaving a space to insert a dental restoration material.