There’s something extremely disconcerting when you feel a filling come loose. While this isn’t necessarily a dental emergency, it can lead to some extra sensitivity on the exposed part of your tooth and make it easier for bacteria to get into hard-to-reach places.
What Causes Fillings to Fall Out?
There are a few simple things that can cause a filling to fall out.
The first is related to ongoing decay. It’s possible that decay could have worked its way in between the filling and your tooth, slowly eroding the structure around the filling. Eventually, the filling will not be as securely fitted as it once was.
Another likely cause for a lost filling is trauma of some kind. If your tooth is cracked or chipped, the filling may not fit as well anymore.
Finally, a filling may come out after a few years of constant clenching or grinding your teeth. (Although, technically this also falls into the “trauma” category.)
What Should You Do When It Falls Out?
If you haven’t accidentally swallowed the filling, take it out of your mouth. You don’t want to breath in those materials. You don’t need to save it for us, though, if it’s an old-fashioned gold filling we can understand you wanting to hang onto it yourself.
The very next step is to call us for an appointment.
Most of the time, this won’t be a dental emergency, and we’ll set up an appointment to take care of you as soon as possible.
However, if you are feeling pain or intense sensitivity, this definitely qualifies as an emergency and we will get you in for treatment immediately.
If you cannot make it into the office right away, there are some over-the-counter solutions that will cover exposed cavities. At this point, though, you should definitely avoid sticky and sugary foods. You can also use some over-the-counter pain medications (aspirin, Tylenol, etc.) to alleviate mild pain.
From this point on, though, be sure you are absolutely dedicated to great oral hygiene. This includes rinsing your mouth out with warm water after eating, and brushing after every meal.
What Will Happen at Your Appointment
Don’t wait to set up an appointment to get this fixed. We don’t want you going around with a gap in your teeth any longer than is absolutely necessary. We don’t want to give food particles a chance to get in there or bacteria to start setting up shop.
At your appointment, we’ll take an x-ray of the affected area and figure out the best procedure.
We may be able to simply restore the filling with newer materials and make sure it is secured in place. If you need a root canal, or if you lost the filling due to some kind of trauma, we may recommend a crown or cap to correct the situation.
If we determine that there just isn’t enough of the tooth structure left after the filling falls out, then we may even have to recommend an extraction.
Prevention is Always the Better Choice
Modern filling materials are designed to last. However, there are some things you can do to prevent accidental loss.
First, of course, is to maintain good oral care. This will help ensure that no bacteria can work its way between your filling and tooth.
Second, use mouth guards if you’re involved with any kind of sports or activities where you could potentially sustain some dental damage.
Finally, avoid chewing on hard candies and ice. That’s just asking for problems.
No Filling Lasts Forever
Every material used for filling cavities will eventually need to be replaced. They simply can’t last forever under the stresses we put them through.
As long as you’re coming in for your regular checkups, though, we can keep a close eye on them and make recommendations if we think it’s time for a replacement.
And, if you’re this proactive about these times of restorations and replacements, you won’t have to worry about ever feeling that disconcerting sensation of losing a filling.