A: If a patient has a filling and the filling has come loose, either from cavities or if the filling is chipped out from trauma. It’s going to cause them pain and sensitivity.
One of the things we can do is, besides call JH Emergency Dental—we can get them in and get them taken care of quickly. But, if they’re near a CVS or Walgreens, HEB, or supermarket, more often than not they carry a material—a temporary filling material. They can place that in there as a temporary cover until they can come in and see us or they can see their regular dentist.
When you get a filling to fix a cavity, you might get the impression that the filling will last forever. Unfortunately, that is not the case, dental fillings are not a forever fix and from time to time can become dislodged. There are a few reasons why this may happen and some of the most often documented reasons are a result of:
- New development of decay around the filling
- Chewing too rough
- Biting down on hard foods such as ice or candy
- Bruxism (teeth grinding)
- Dental trauma
If your filling comes out, the first thing you should do is call your preferred dentist to book an appointment. However, sometimes getting an appointment right away isn’t always feasible. In fact, it rarely is, so the best thing you can do is to protect the tooth.
Action Plan If Your Filling Comes Out
Of course, a filling is designed to prevent a tooth from further damage when a cavity develops. So, when a filling comes out you need to get it replaced as quickly as you can. In the meantime, here’s what you can do to protect the tooth and prepare for repair.
- Obviously, you want to call your dentist right away to book the next available appointment. Let your dentist know your pain level—in some instances they can see you sooner. If you have any questions about protecting the tooth this is the time to ask them.
- If you were able to retain the filling, keep it safe in a baggie or container. The dentist may or may not be able to re-seat it.
- Gargle with saltwater—this helps to clean any debris or food particles out of the mouth including the exposed area. Just add ½ teaspoon of salt to a mug full of warm water. Once dissolved take a few sips—gargle and spit after a few seconds. Repeat this several times to help kill any bacteria.
- Take care of the tooth as you normally would but be careful to brush that area very gently as it may be tender.
- Do not chew on the side of your mouth where the filling has come out.
- At CVS, HEB, or other stores you can buy a temporary filling repair kit to protect the exposed tooth for the time being.
What If My Dentist Has No Appointments Open?
Most dental clinics schedule in such a way that they have some wiggle room to slip an appointment in at the last moment. However, sometimes that’s just not the case and you need to make alternative plans. That’s where JH Emergency Dental can be a lifesaver. With our extended hours and same-day appointments when available, we are your best bet at the last moment for top quality service.
Pain Management When Your Filling Comes Out
If you end up having to wait a couple of days to see your dentist and your pain is significant, don’t worry. There is a way you can keep the pain level in your mouth manageable while you wait for your appointment. In the meantime, you can try the following pain management treatments:
- Take an OTC anti-inflammatory such as Aleve or ibuprofen to bring swelling down and reduce pain.
- You can use clove oil and apply it to the tooth that is exposed and the surrounding gum to lessen the pain.
- A cold compress or gel ice pack does wonders for pain. Just hold it on the outside of the affected area for 20 minutes. Let it rest for an hour and then repeat if there’s still pain.
- While you can’t go to your local pharmacy and grab a tub of Novocain, you can get Orajel. It’s an OTC strength numbing agent that helps numb the pain.
Other Damage You Can Incur When A Filling Comes Out
Typically, if your missing filling is repaired right away, you shouldn’t have any problems. However, if you let it go for a week or more you’re only increasing your odds of more damage.
Particles of food and bacteria can get lodged into the cavity and cause further decay. Not to mention, if the filling is large enough, you could be exposing the dentin. That is the layer beneath the enamel and it is much more vulnerable to decay. Dentin that has become exposed can also cause painful tooth sensitivity.
The more decay that occurs, the more likely you will need more work done, or worse, the tooth will need extraction. Word to the wise—if your filling comes loose, don’t sleep on it—take care of it ASAP.
Do Fillings Last A Long Time?
That is a question where the answer is dependent on a few factors. Mainly, your dental hygiene discipline, and what the filling is made of. Another factor to consider is the size and position of the filling which can have some impact on the lifespan of your filling. For example, fillings in molars will be getting constant pressure from heavy chewing and grinding food. Therefore, those fillings tend to have a shorter lifespan regardless of material.
If you stick to a rigid dental hygiene plan that includes brushing and flossing at least twice a day—that’s a plus. Fillings will usually last longer when hygiene is maintained regularly. However, fillings are made from different materials and each has its pros and cons.
Different materials offer different strengths and have their limitations as well. Nothing is guaranteed but here are some estimated lifespans of common filling materials:
- gold fillings: 15 – 30 years
- amalgam fillings: 5 – 25 years
- composite fillings: 5 – 15 years
Tips To Prevent Your Filling From Coming Out
When a filling comes loose, it’s rarely just out of the blue for no reason. Normally, it’s either lived out or past its expectancy or it’s due to patient actions. We’ll stress this again because it’s that important—good dental hygiene is 90% of the prevention.
What does good dental hygiene look like? Well, it includes but is not limited to the following:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a good toothpaste containing fluoride.
- Floss your teeth at least once a day, preferably three times a day between meals if possible.
- Don’t use old toothbrushes—replace them every quarter.
- Brush your tongue, not just your teeth. Millions of bacteria live on your tongue—if anything, do it for fresh breath.
- Don’t let your dentist be a stranger. Get a checkup at least twice a year. Getting these checkups regularly will allow your dentist to catch problems early, such as a loose filling. It’s always good to be one step ahead of a dental issue.
- Avoid bruxism (grinding of the teeth) by using a mouthguard when you sleep as that is when most instances occur.
Having An Emergency With Your Filling?
If you’re worried about a filling that has come loose and are dealing with pain and swelling, we can help. We offer same-day appointments when available and can get you in and taken care of. All you need to do is contact us and we can get you booked for our next opening.