Woman thinking of sedative filling

It’s always unfortunate when a tooth has decayed so much that it needs to be restored by a dentist, but there are many options to save your tooth! Dentists are experts at fixing both mild and severe cases of tooth decay, but sometimes they need more time to examine your tooth to find out which treatment is right for you.

Sometimes a dentist is faced with an unusually complicated case of tooth decay or other dental damage. At this point in the dental treatment process, it may be unclear if the tooth can be saved with a simple procedure or if it needs a major restoration. This usually happens when tooth decay reaches or is close to reaching the nerve at the center of the tooth.

A sedative filling is a temporary kind of filling that dentists use at this critical junction. It stabilizes a tooth where decay has been removed and allows us to examine how the tooth responds to treatment. A mixture of oil of clove and zinc oxide is used in these fillings, which stop the spread of tooth decay and disinfect the cavity. These ingredients also help “calm” your tooth by relieving discomfort and sensitivity in the nerve—hence the term “sedative”!

Proper home care is extremely important with sedative fillings. Because sedative fillings are meant to be temporary, they can fall out relatively easily if you aren’t careful. Avoid chewing food on the side of your mouth with the filling and make sure to brush & floss with a slow and gentle approach so you don’t dislodge the filling. If your sedative filling does come out, please call us right away.

So just how temporary are these fillings? A tooth with a sedative filling is normally observed for several weeks before the dentist moves onto the next step of your treatment. Every patient is different, and it may take more or less time to figure out how to proceed. It may seem like a long time to wait, but please understand that we want to choose the most conservative solution in order to preserve as much of your natural tooth as possible!

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