How Long Do Fillings Take for Tooth Cavities?

How Long Do Fillings Take for Tooth Cavities

A tooth filling is a dental procedure to treat cavities. It fixes the damage caused due to tooth decay. If you are wondering how long fillings take during a dental procedure, then be assured that it doesn’t take more than an hour. 

In most cases, it is done even earlier. A simple filling may take only 20 minutes. The setting time depends on the material used for the filling. However, you may feel sensations afterwards for a long time, depending on the extent of the decay. It is a painless procedure.

Why Do You Need Fillings In Cavities?

Tooth cavities are the major reason behind getting fillings. If you have a tooth cavity and the dentist is advising you to get a filling, here’s all that you need to know. 

Cavities are damaged areas of the hard surface of the teeth. Such areas become tiny openings or holes that may lead to severe toothache, infection, or tooth loss (1). 

The reasons to have cavities include-

  • Bacteria in the mouth.
  • Snacking sugary items.
  • Sipping sweet drinks and taking proper care of the teeth.

How Long Does It Take To Get A Filling?

How long does it take to get a filling

A simple filling may need a few minutes, but depending on the complexity, sometimes a longer time (up to an hour) may be needed. Many dentists now have set up the technology to make onlays and inlays in one appointment. A more extensive filling or multiple fillings may take a longer duration.

Children between the ages of five and eleven have the most cavities. Dental issues are widespread among them despite maintaining good dental hygiene and a nutritious diet. 

The dentists may consider a few things before starting the procedure. For example, children under the age of five may need anesthesia if they cannot sit still for 20 minutes. This can add more time to their appointment duration. Also, in such cases, recovery might take more time than usual. Some dentists prefer using Nitrous oxide (also called laughing gas) to keep children still during the procedure (2).

It is important that you discuss your child’s condition in detail with the dentist, explaining if any underlying issue needs to be addressed as well. A good pediatric dentist can calculate an estimate of the time that might be required for your child’s filling. 

 Beside this, how long the fillings take also depends upon the type of filling the dentist uses. 

What Are The Different Types Of Fillings?

The fillings are categorized as direct or indirect. 

Direct Fillings

Composite resin and silver amalgam are examples of direct filling (3). In the case of direct filling, the filling is directly filled in the cavity space post-cleaning. Silver amalgam filling takes slightly longer as they require removal of excess tooth material. Hence, composite resin is a commonly chosen filling as it settles quickly and can be done in one visit.

Indirect Fillings

Indirect fillings

Here, the first step is to clean the cavity. In the second step, there will be custom fabrication of the filling in a dental lab. The two indirect fillings are inlays and onlays. Inlays are recommended when the tooth’s complete chewing surface is decayed, while onlays are recommended if the entire tooth and one or more cusps are decayed. Such fillings require more than one visit. Gold filling is an example of indirect fillings.

White Tooth Colour Fillings

White tooth colour fillings are also called composites. These are a mix of glass or quartz particles and acrylic resin. It costs a little more than metal amalgams and is durable.

Silver Colour Fillings

These are metal amalgams (4). They are a mix of mercury, silver, tin, and copper. Such amalgam is more durable than tooth-coloured fillings. They are also cost-effective and much cheaper than other materials. Some people are apprehensive about using mercury, but there is no clinical evidence proving amalgam fillings may cause health hazards (5).

Gold Fillings

This mixture contains copper, gold, and other materials. It is very durable but also very expensive because of the presence of gold. To have such a filling, you need to give a tooth impression to the dentists so that it can be formed accordingly in the lab.

Glass Ionomer Fillings

These fillings are less strong than tooth-colour fillings but look similar in appearance. These are made of acrylic and a type of glass material that help to avert cavities in the future. They are more expensive than amalgams and are most commonly used for children’s teeth.

Porcelain Fillings

These fillings look very natural. They are also expensive and made after the tooth impression has been taken by the dentist. They are prepared in the lab according to the impression.

Now that we have understood the types of fillings, here’s how you can decide how long it will take. 

Fillings that are made from impressions take more time as they need more than one visit to the dentist. Whereas composite resin material that is layered into the tooth takes more time, but it is completed in one visit.

Procedure for Tooth Fillings 

The dentist will first anesthetize your mouth to numb the affected area so that you do not feel pain while drilling and cleaning the cavity. Then, he will remove decayed tissue from the tooth and will give shape to the tooth so that the filling can settle in properly. 

If the dentist has all the necessary equipment at the dental office, the procedure may need only one long visit. But if the dental laboratory is at a different place, then you may need to visit the doctor more than once.

At the first visit, the dentist will remove the cavity and make an impression of the tooth. This impression will then be sent to a lab to create the filling, which will be fixed into the tooth in the next visit.

If the tooth is getting filled for the first time, the time taken will be less. However, if the older filling needs to be replaced, then the process will be slightly longer as the dentist may first remove the older filling through drilling, clean the cavity, and then insert a new filling.


Dental filling is a restorative process that treats decayed teeth and prevents them from further decay. As they are commonly performed restorative procedures, they can be done effectively and quickly.

So, if you wonder how long do fillings take, the exact time to get it depends mainly on the type of filling, dental material, and the size of the decayed area. 

Overall, on average, the dental filling may need a duration between 20 minutes to an hour. To know the exact duration of the procedure, you must consult your dentist so that the entire proposed treatment can be discussed and planned accordingly.


  1. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research – Tooth Decay
  2. National Library Of Medicine – Current status of nitrous oxide use in pediatric patients
  3. Research Gate –Direct composite resin fillings versus amalgam fillings for permanent posterior teeth
  4. Science Direct – Dental Amalgam
  5. National Library Of Medicine – The Dental Amalgam Toxicity Fear: A Myth or Actuality

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