My Filling Fell Out — What Should I Do Now?
Dental fillings are one of the most common dental treatments and for a good reason. They are versatile and can save even teeth that are seemingly beyond repair. But waking up one morning to see that a filling fell out can definitely ruin your day. It can be extremely frustrating, especially if you don’t know any local emergency dental care centers (click here for dental emergency). However, before panicking, you first need to understand how it happened and why. Did you bite something hard? Or was the filling really old? And most importantly, what can you do about it if you can’t reach an emergency dentist?
Dental Fillings Overview
Dental fillings are a type of treatment that dentists use to fill holes and gaps in a damaged or broken tooth. The gaps are mostly created by tooth decay, so a dental filling can protect the inner layers of the tooth. While dental fillings are a good and durable way to fill cavities, some dentists will crown the affected tooth. They do that to provide extra protection to the filling and the tooth. But sometimes, no matter how careful we are, the filling will fall out.
My Filling Fell Out — Why Did It Happen?
Usually, dental fillings are durable and can withstand most foods, allowing us to chew like we normally would. Yet, teeth decay and prolonged trauma can damage even the most durable dental fillings. Even saliva can loosen the bondings of the filling and, over time, break it off completely.
Furthermore, each filling has a certain life expectancy, meaning that it will require replacement once in a while. But if you don’t replace it in time, you might end up with an infection and your tooth may need to be extracted.
How Do I Know If My Filling Fell Out?
Noticing an empty space in a treated tooth is the first sign that your filling fell out. If you don’t have a mirror nearby, you can run your tongue over the “suspicious” tooth. If you can feel a crack or a hole, then the filling is missing. Sometimes, you might end up with a small, hard object in your mouth when eating which is most likely the filling or a piece of it.
Besides that, there are other symptoms that can help you figure out if you are dealing with a missing filling:
- Toothache: If you feel pain in a treated tooth, the chances are that your filling fell out
- Tooth sensitivity: Experiencing a sensitivity to cold or hot foods and drinks is a red flag and should warrant a quick check in the mirror
- Food may get stuck: Food can end up getting stuck in the hole left by a missing filling
What To Do if a Filling Falls Out
Acting quickly is important if you notice that your filling has fallen out. You should call an emergency dentist or look for emergency dental services in your area. The longer you wait, the more bacteria can enter the tooth, thus increasing the chances of tooth decay.
Some dental care centers consider fallen fillings an emergency, meaning that you can go in without an appointment.
But even if you can’t go to the dentist, there are some things you should do to avoid further pain and damage:
- Use anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen if you are dealing with throbbing pain
- Avoid chewing on the side of the affected tooth to prevent food from getting stuck
- You can buy numbing agents similar to Anbesol to further numb the pain
Another thing you can do to temporarily fix a filling that fell out is to use dental wax. You can find it at most pharmacies and you can use it to prevent bacteria from entering the cavity. All you have to do is to mold it against the tooth to fill the empty space.
Going to the Dentist
Going to an emergency dentist should be your top priority. It’s only a matter of time before bacteria can enter the cavity and cause more damage. If you continue to avoid calling the dentist, you will most likely lose the tooth to decay or an infection. According to ADA.org, untreated decay can infect the pulp, which leads to tooth loss.
We know that going to the dentist can be scary for some, but nowadays, thanks to anesthetics, medical procedures are nearly pain-free. Besides, dentists deal with nervous patients all the time, so they know how to take things slow and make you feel comfortable.
What Will the Dentist Do?
Every dentist will start by inspecting and removing any leftover filling. If you’ve put off going to the dentist, chances are, the hole is already filled with food. The dentist will clean the cavity and then check if there is any further decay. Once the decay is dealt with, they will most likely place a new filling or even a crown to protect it.
Sometimes, if you delay the appointment, the dentist will take an X-ray to check if you have developed an infection. If you have, they will perform a root canal or even remove the tooth altogether. If you want to avoid that possibility, it’s important that you visit the dentist as soon as you can.
Dental Filling Protection Tips
While most fillings will eventually fall out, there are a few things you can do to postpone their replacement:
- Avoid biting on hard foods
- Use a mouth guard if you are having trouble with nightly teeth grinding
- Have your teeth checked regularly by a dentist
- Cut down on sugary foods that can increase the risk of tooth decay
- Switch to a fluoride toothpaste
- Replace your toothbrush every three months
The Bottom Line
Whether we like it or not, no matter how durable a filling is, it will eventually fall out. When that happens, it’s important not to panic and to contact an emergency dentist as fast as you can. The more you wait, the more likely tooth loss becomes. But until you see the dentist, cleaning the area and avoiding further damage is the best you can do.
You should always take care of your teeth no matter if your filling fell out or not. If you do that properly, you will remove the need for fillings in the first place. It’s important to remember that you should always try to prevent damage to your teeth, not fix it later.