A tooth filling is a relatively common procedure performed in the dental clinic when there is a hole in the tooth, after a root canal or when the tooth is broken.
A filling coming off is usually not an emergency but it could cause a lot of discomfort because of the associated symptoms like sensitivity with taking hot or cold drinks or food packing.
While fillings are supposed to last about ten years, they could become weak over time due to wear and tear and fall off.
What To Do If Your Filling Falls Out
1. Do Not Panic
Stay calm and do not panic. The experience may be a bit scary but try to relax. If it happened while eating, stop eating immediately.
2. Remove The Filling From Your Mouth
Try to remove the filling from your mouth so that you don’t accidentally swallow or choke on it.
3. Keep The Area Clean
You need to keep the area where the filling used to be, clean. This can be done by avoiding chewing on that side, rinsing your mouth with water and brushing gently in that area. All these will help prevent food from being trapped in the hole leading to bacteria accumulation.
4. Use A Temporary Filling Material
Over-the-counter dental cement can be used to seal the tooth surface temporarily. This is to help protect the area until you are able to see your dentist. Remember that this is not a substitute for a proper filling.
5. Use Pain Killers
If there is associated pain, an over-the-counter analgesic like paracetamol can be taken to relieve the pain.
6. Visit Your Dentist
All the measures listed above are temporary measures to help to protect the tooth. Remember to visit your dentist as soon as possible so as to prevent it from getting worse.
Why Did My Filling Fall Out?
Your filling could have fallen out due to a variety of reasons.
- Due to wear and tear, the margins around the fillings may become worn out making the filling loose.
- After a filling procedure, you will be instructed not to chew on the side of the filled tooth for at least 24 hours. This is to allow the filling material to harden and become strong enough. Failure to adhere to this instruction can make the filling fall out.
- Eating hard foods like bone can also lead to your filling falling out. Your tooth can also fracture in the process.
- Decay forming around the margin of the filling can also make the filling fall off.
- If the filling was not done properly or if the filling material was defective, it could come off after some days.
How To Know Your Filling Has Fallen Out
If you feel or notice any of these, it could mean that your filling is off.
Sudden pain felt in your tooth when you eat. The pain may also be spontaneous, not associated with eating. If the pain is very severe, it requires immediate attention from your dentist.
If you feel a hard object in your mouth after biting down on something hard.
You experience a shocking sensation or sensitivity when you take hot and cold foods. This is usually the commonest sign that your filling has come off.
You feel a crack or indentation when you use your tongue to run over your tooth. This may also mean that the filling is faulty or defective.
What Can Be Done?
A filling that has fallen out may not be an emergency but it requires urgent attention so it does not get worse. Your dentist will do any of the following, depending on the symptoms.
- Dental X-rays will be taken so as to determine the extent of the cavity.
- If there is no pain and the cavity has not progressed to the innermost layer of the tooth, the filling can be replaced.
- If the tooth structure left after the filling is not strong enough, a dental crown or cap is required to provide additional strength to the tooth.
- If a new decay has formed underneath the filling, the decayed part needs to be removed first before the new filling is placed.
- When there is severe pain, root canal treatment might be done by your dentist. A crown is required afterward to strengthen the tooth. If the tooth is beyond redemption, it will be extracted.
- Visit your dentist regularly, at least twice a year. Loose or worn out fillings can be detected in time and replaced before they come off completely.
- Avoid eating hard foods like bone, especially on the side of the filled tooth so that the filling does not fall off.
- Ensure that you follow the instructions given after a tooth filling procedure.
- Avoid taking sugary snacks and drinks to prevent decay from forming along the margins of the filling.
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