An amalgam restoration, commonly known as a filling, is a fairly straightforward and simple procedure. You can expect to talk to your dentist about the procedure before beginning, followed by a Novocain shot to numb the area. Once the area is numb, the drilling and filling will begin, when you will hear the drill and may feel some pressure. When the filling is complete, the dentist will clean and polish the area. During the healing process, you may experience some discomfort for up to a few weeks.
During an amalgam restoration, you can expect to be sitting in the same position for an extended period of time. Most of that time will be spent with your mouth wide open. This will prevent you from being able to talk to the dentist while he or she is completing the filling. It is a good idea to spend a little time before the procedure to get all of your questions or concerns out in the open. Establish some kind of signal with your dentist, like raising your hand, that will signal him or her to stop in case there is something you need to communicate during the procedure.
The next thing you can expect during an amalgam restoration is numbing, usually using a Novocain shot. The shot itself should be relatively painless, though some pressure may be felt. A great way to get through a shot is to concentrate on your breathing. The dentist will likely step away for a few minutes to let the anesthesia set in, during which time you may experience a pins-and-needles, tingling sensation. After a short while, the area should be totally numbed. and the dentist can begin the procedure.
The amalgam restoration will begin with some drilling in order to clean out the cavity. Even though the area has been numbed, you can expect to feel some pressure and hear drilling. If you are particularly bothered by the pressure, concentrating on your breathing works here too to help take the focus away from discomfort. For some people, the worst part of the procedure is the high-pitched sound of the drill. If you are one of these people, bring some headphones and your favorite songs to drown out the sound.
Another thing you can expect during an amalgam restoration is lots of water. The dentist or the dental assistant will be spraying a lot of water on the tooth to cool down heat produced by the friction of the drill. If the tooth gets too hot, it can be seriously damaged. The dentist will provide a suction straw to help remove some of the excess water. If it becomes overwhelming, just let your dentist know, and he or she can try to remove more water or give you a rest if needed.
When the amalgam restoration is complete, the dentist will clean and polish the tooth and send you on your way. Your lips and tongue may remain numb for a few hours after the procedure, so eat very carefully if you have to eat while your mouth is numb and avoid any hot foods to prevent burning. You may experience some tooth pain in the tooth that was restored as well as surrounding teeth. The pain should be fairly mild, but if it's severe or lasts more than a few weeks, contact the dentist.