If cavity is very big and tooth structure is compromised, your dentist might suggest further treatment.
Sorry to hear about your cavity. Cavities come in all different shapes, sizes, and locations. Provided this is a cavity that absolutely needs a filling (it is not too small where it can be reversed, and it is not to big where bigger treatment is needed) most dentists will start by giving local anesthesia (getting the patient "numb"). The cavity is a tiny hole, at the end of which there is bacteria and a pocket of decay. Once the anesthesia takes effect the dentist will drill where the cavity starts and follow it where the decay and bacteria go. At this point he/she will remove the decay and bacteria and make sure there is nothing but good, clean, hard tooth structure there. Finally the dentist will put in the filling (most likely tooth color that matches the tooth). After the filling is in the dentist will make sure it is smooth, polish it, and make sure all your teeth come together nicely.
The treatment options are limited though. First off, the filling does not have to be done. The dentist is only making a recommendation that you should have it done. If it is small and the tooth structure is still there, then theoretically it can be reversed by keeping it clean (brushing and flossing) and incorporating fluoride. There are options as far as filling materials; tooth colored vs silver (yes some dentists still do silver). Unfortunately, other then this, the only other options are more invasive procedures such as crowns or veneers. Hope this helps.
My best to you!
William F. Scott IV, DMD
Anesthetic is used to prevent discomfort. The infected part of the tooth is thoroughly cleaned away. This will stop the infection process. The dentist will now restore the missing tooth structure with a material to provide normal anatomy and function. You will find the best information available on how to prevent another cavity in the book: GROWING A HEALTHY CHILD, SECRETS FROM A WISE OLD DOC.
You would be well advised to purchase a copy, study it, and follow it. Cavities are almost 100% preventable. It is an infection you do not have to have. Teeth are extremely important and well worth the effort. You only have to provide the preventive care to the teeth you would like to keep.
Thank you for the question.
David M. Garazi, DMD