So you got the news all parents fear when their little one visits the dentist. Your child has a cavity and needs a filling. This can leave you feeling guilty, uneasy, and desperate for information on what the process is like to fill a child’s cavity.

First things first: this does not make you a bad parent. Today’s children have much more sugar in their diets than children in the past. Around 4 million kids in preschool suffer from tooth decay. Now that you know that, it’s time to get back to being the super parent that you are!

Once you hear your child needs a pediatric cavity filling, you’ll set a new appointment with your child’s dentist. Leading up to that visit, give your child limited information about what is coming up. It’s likely that if you have any negative feelings about dental procedures, your child will pick up on it when you’re talking to them about their appointment. It’s best to tell them something like their dentist is going to get the sugar bugs out of their teeth and leave it at that. It’s definitely not a good idea to make it out to be a punishment for not brushing properly.

Cavity Fillings for Children Is a Simple Process

Your child’s dentist may need to confirm the cavity by taking an x-ray. That will usually happen during the visit when the cavity is discovered. The technicians will take every precaution to keep your child safe and comfortable during the x-ray.

Numbing gels, anaesthetics, and “laughing gas”

The dentist will begin the process of filling cavities for children by putting numbing gel on the gums. Nitrous Oxide, which is also known as laughing gas, can be used to calm anxious little patients. It is a mild form of sedation to help them relax. Nitrous Oxide is safe to use and will be eliminated from the body almost immediately once the gas is turned off.

After the numbing gel and laughing gas, it’s time for anaesthetic. Your child’s dentist will give a shot of anaesthetic into the gums next to the tooth getting filled. If your child isn’t told that this is a shot, it’s not likely that he or she will be able to tell, so you may choose to not mention it before the visit.

Cleaning and placing the fillings for childrenWhat is the Procedure for Filling a Child’s Cavity?

Once the dentist is sure the area is numb, tooth decay will be removed with a drill or scraping tool. At the same time, a nurse will be using a sucking tool to remove water and debris. This can be the most stressful part of the procedure for your child. Fortunately, it is also usually very quick.

After the decay is removed, your child’s dentist will fill the cavity with either a silver filling (amalgam) or a tooth-colored filling (composite). A metal ring may be placed around the tooth to act as a mold while the filling is placed if the cavity has damaged the side of the tooth. Once the filling material is placed and hardened, your child will be asked to bite down to make sure everything is comfortable, rinse, and be all done!

Celebration and aftercare

Now it’s time to celebrate your brave little one! The dentist’s office will probably offer a sticker and a few “hooray” cheers. Remind your child not to bite, scratch, or suck the numb cheek, tongue, or lip. Your child may not realize it’s happening, so keep a close eye to make sure they aren’t in pain when the feeling comes back.

How Do You Choose between Amalgam and Composite Fillings?

Amalgam is the silver filling material. It is made of copper, silver, tin, and elemental mercury. The material is completely safe for your child, is a bit less expensive than a composite filling, and can last more than 20 years. However, due to the silver color, it isn’t the most popular choice. Keep in mind, the surface area of amalgam fillings has to be larger than composite fillings to remain properly attached to the tooth. It may also gradually cause the tooth to darken over time.

Composite filling material is made of plastic resin. Although it is the slightly more expensive option, its popularity soars due to the natural colors available. Composite filling material can fit any cavity shape which minimizes the size compared to amalgam fillings. Unfortunately, due to a softer texture, composite fillings usually only last about 10 years.

Of course, you want your child to have the most beautiful smile possible; however, you shouldn’t count amalgam fillings out. Composite fillings require more meticulous at-home care. Cavities can develop along the edges of the composite material and a new drilling and filling will be necessary.

Give Your Child the Best Cavity Filling Experience

Contact us at Children’s Dental Care and Orthodontics to schedule an appointment with Dr. Carla LaLande today. We will check your little one’s mouth for cavities. If anything needs to be repaired, our staff will provide the best experience possible to relieve your and your child’s uneasiness.


I brought in both of my children (6 and 4), the staff was so friendly, patient, and accommodating. From the receptionist, the hygienist, to the dentist there is a high degree of professionalism exhibited throughout!

Joan Maguire

Las Vegas, NV

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