Imagine you are eating and it feels like you bit on a small stone. That would be quite scary and you may be wondering what just happened.
If you have had a tooth filling procedure done before, it could mean that the filling just fell out. A tooth filling is a relatively common procedure performed in the dental clinic when there is a cavity or 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 a maximum of ten years, they could become weak over time due to wear and tear and fall off. Did your filling fall out and you don’t know what next to do? This article explains to you in detail what to do next.
What To Do If Your Filling Falls Out
1. Do Not Panic
First things first, 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 or warm water and salt after eating, and also brushing carefully and gently on 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 hrs. This is to allow the filling material to harden and become strong enough. Failure to adhere to this instruction can lead to the filling falling out.
• Eating hard foods like bone can also lead to your filling falling out. The tooth can also fracture in the process.
• Decay forming around the margin of the filling can also make the filling fall off.
• In rare cases of the filling not being done properly or the filling material being 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 is an emergency and requires immediate attention from your dentist.
• If you feel a hard object in your mouth after biting down on something hard. Sometimes you may not feel anything especially if you mistakenly swallow it. No need to worry as this is a common occurrence and it is harmless.
• 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 radiographs will be taken so as to determine the extent of the cavity.
1) 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.
2) If a new decay has formed underneath the filling, the decayed part needs to be removed first before the new filling is placed.
3) When there is associated severe pain, a root canal treatment will 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 so as to prevent decay from forming along the margins of the filling.
Types Of Tooth Fillings
There are different types of fillings available and they include
This is a silver or grey-colored filling that is made up of mercury, tin, zinc, and other materials. This filling is usually used on the back teeth because of its color and strength.
This is a tooth-colored filling that is usually used for aesthetic improvement of the teeth by reshaping disfigured or broken teeth and also changing the appearance of the teeth.
c. Glass Ionomer Cement
This is a tooth-colored filling that contains glass particles. It is used mostly for milk teeth and also releases fluoride which helps to prevent cavities.
Keep in mind that there is nothing that can be compared to your natural teeth. No matter how well a filling was done, it is just a repair and cannot last a lifetime. So make sure you take care of your teeth and visit your dentist regularly.
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