Steps to Take When a Dental Filling Cracks or Falls Out
After a dental filling is in place, most people forget it’s even there. With adequate bonding to the natural tooth and good oral hygiene habits, most fillings can stay in place for a decade or more. However, sometimes a filling can become compromised and, in some cases, fall out. If this happens to you, it’s imperative you schedule a dental appointment right away, so you don’t expose your tooth to harmful bacteria that can cause further decay and discomfort. You need a replacement filling to seal the natural tooth and avoid future complications.
Why did your filling fall out or become compromised in the first place? This can happen for a variety of reasons, including recurrent decay around the filling, habitual teeth grinding or clenching, a chemical reaction that loosens the bond of the filling to the tooth, or simply a particularly hard or sticky piece of food that cracks or dislodges the filling.
So, what can you do when a filling comes loose or falls out?
Keep Calm and Call Your Dentist
Don’t panic! Most dentists have time slots in their schedule for dental emergencies, so make sure to call your dentist immediately to get the soonest available appointment. While you’re on the phone, be sure to describe your problem and any pain you may be experiencing, and ask about any tips to take care of your newly exposed tooth until the time of your appointment.
In some cases, you may be able to keep your filling, like a dental crown, to see if your dentist can re-cement it to your tooth. This can potentially save you both time and money.
Keep the Area Clean
Prior to your appointment, the best thing you can do is keep your teeth clean and be mindful of the types of food you consume. The area under the filling is softer than your tooth’s regular enamel and thus more prone to bacteria. Avoid strong alcohol-based mouthwashes that may cause your exposed tooth to sting and may kill helpful bacteria. Instead, mix warm water with sea salt and use it to rinse and gargle multiple times a day. Also make sure to gently brush the exposed tooth to clear away bacteria and debris, and try avoid using that tooth to chew. Of course, continue to brush and floss regularly.
Sometimes even with care, an exposed tooth will cause pain and swelling. The best thing you can do is continue practicing oral hygiene and do your best to manage the pain. Try applying ice or a cold compress to the affected area. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory and pain relievers, like ibuprofen, can help with swelling and pain. Again, if you are waiting for your appointment but are in great pain, be sure to communicate that to your dentist. You can always call the office back to update them on your condition.
In some cases, you may be able to use dental wax or a temporary filling material to protect the exposed tooth. For pain, you may also try applying clove oil, available online or at a pharmacy, to the exposed tooth or gum. However, remember this is only a temporary solution, and you will need to get the filling repaired or replaced at the dentist.
The Most Import Step: Prevention
Truly, the best thing you can do is try to prevent losing a filling in the first place! Brush and floss twice a day every day, and make sure to schedule regular visits with your dentist, who will routinely check your existing fillings. If you know you may be in need of a new filling, or even just a regular cleaning, don’t wait to schedule your appointment.
At Bowden Dental, we have the skills and experience to deliver the most clinically sound restorative dentistry, prioritizing our patients’ needs and making them as comfortable as possible during these routine procedures. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and maintain the healthy, strong smile you deserve.