How Do You Know If A Filling Has Fallen Out?
It may be quite obvious when a filling falls out should it begin to loosen or fall out while you are eating, brushing your teeth, or flossing. However, there are many instances where it is difficult to know whether a filling has come loose or fallen out, especially if the filling was small.
Common signs that a tooth filling has fallen out:
- A sudden pain in the tooth where the filling is present
- Sensitivity to hot and cold foods
- Food is getting stuck where the filling is located
- You feel a crack or hole in your tooth
- You feel a hard, small object in your mouth after chewing or biting down on something.
Should you experience any of the above symptoms, it is important to schedule an appointment with your dentist for an examination to replace and repair the filling.
What To Do If A Filling Has Fallen Out?
Keep in mind, there is no need to panic should a filling fall out. It is important, however, to act quickly as food and bacteria can now come into contact with the interior surface of the tooth or an exposed nerve. This type of direct exposure can lead to infection or decay of the tooth.
Tips on how to care for your tooth when a filling has fallen out:
- Remove the Filling
- Contact Your Dentist
- Brush Your Teeth Gently
- Use Dental Wax to Fill the Void
- Take a Pain Reliever
- Try Not to Chew On the Affected Tooth
Why Did My Filling Fall Out?
Many people wonder why their filling fell out in the first place. Is it something related to their oral health? Did they not properly care for their fillings? Could they have prevented the filling from falling out?
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for a filling to fall out and is related to oral changes over time.Dr. Dan Javaheri
Below are a number of factors that may cause a filling to loosen over time:
- Pressure exerted by chewing
- Teeth grinding (Bruxism)
- Decay in or around the filling
- Biting on something hard
- Saliva loosening the filling bonding
While it is not uncommon for a filling to fall out, there are steps you can take to increase the longevity of your filling and keep it intact.
- Maintain a good oral hygiene and health routine
- Schedule regular dentist visits
- Avoid biting on hard objects such as hard candy, ice, and nuts
How Long Do Fillings Typically Last?
Fillings are designed and built for longevity. Should the surrounding tooth remain healthy, you can expect your filling to last for many years, even decades.
Different materials used for fillings also play a role in the life expectancy of your filling.
- Gold Fillings are the longest lasting and may last 15 to 30 years
- Silver Amalgam Fillings can last up to 15 years before the need for replacement
- Composite Resin Fillings may need to be replaced every 5 to 7 years
Is It An Emergency If A Filling Has Fallen Out?
It certainly is a shock to feel a filling loosen or fall out as you are eating or brushing your teeth. Rest assured, there is rarely a need to panic as a loose or lost filling is typically not an urgent emergency.
Urgent care is appropriate when there is dental trauma, such as bleeding or swelling that will not stop.
While a dental visit is needed to repair the filling, keep in mind, there are steps you can take to care for a tooth when a filling has fallen out.
Your dentist will be able to easily and quickly care for and remedy the lost filling.
What To Do If A Filling Has Fallen Out And You Cannot Get To A Dentist?
If your filling has fallen out and you cannot get to a dentist right away, following the steps below to care for your tooth.
- Rinse the area with warm salt water to clean and flush out any bacteria or debris
- Take over the counter pain relievers such as aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol), or Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, Aleve) to help alleviate pain
- Cover the area with dental wax as a temporary plug up the exposed areas
What To Do If A Filling Fell Out And You Do Not Have Insurance?
If you do not have dental insurance, you are not alone. According to the National Association of Dental Plans, approximately 74 million Americans are without dental insurance.
Affordable dental care is possible and available through a number of avenues, such as:
- Dental savings plans
- Dental payment plans
- Dental Schools and Community Clinics
- Short-term loans
Speak with your dentist or a local dental office work with many uninsured patients and can help facilitate a payment plan that works for you and your unique needs. Some dentists may offer a sliding scale pricing plan which means rates will be adjusted to your income.
How Does A Dentist Repair A Broken Tooth Under A Filling?
Prior to repairing a filling, your dentist will examine the affected tooth. Prior to the filling repair, your dentist will likely numb your teeth and surrounding gums to maximize comfort and minimize pain during the procedure.
Once the tooth is properly numb, the prior filling will be removed and drilled out, along with any areas of decay in the tooth. A replacement filling will then be placed in the tooth.
Additional Dental Procedures
In addition to a filling repair or replacement, your dentist will assess the overall health of the tooth and surrounding area. In some cases, a dental crown or root canal may be necessary.
In some instances, a dental crown may be needed to:
- Protect a weak tooth by holding it together
- Restore a tooth that was previously broken
- Cover and support a large filling where there is little tooth left
- To hold a dental bridge in place
- To cover a severely discolored or malformed tooth
- Cover a dental implant
- To make a cosmetic change
Should your dentist determine the need for a crown, a temporary crown will be made in your dentist’s office while the permanent crown is made in an outside dental laboratory.
If there are signs of infection or deep decay, a root canal may be recommended. A root canal procedure is needed when the soft tissue (pulp) inside the root canal becomes infected or inflamed.
Additional reasons why root canals may be needed:
- Crack or chip in the tooth
- Faulty crown
- Repeated dental work on a tooth