Dental fillings can wear out over time and sometimes a filling may fall out. There are many reasons why a dental filling might come off. These are some of the most common reasons a filling can come loose.
- Fillings are prone to new decay
- Chew too hard
- Crunchy or hard foods can be dangerous.
- grinding your teeth (bruxism)
- Trauma to the tooth/root
- An chemical reaction that breaks down the bond between the tooth and the filling
Call your dentist to schedule an appointment if you have a broken filling. You should protect the tooth until you visit your dentist.
It’s crucial to have your filling replaced immediately if it falls out or becomes loose. Here are the steps.
What steps should you take?
- Contact your dentist immediately to make an appointment. Tell your dentist if you feel in pain. Ask the dentist for recommendations on how to protect your tooth from injury if you cannot be seen immediately.
- The dentist will need to see the filling and determine if it can be reused. A dentist may be able re-cement a crown that has been lost.
- Gargle with salt water to keep the area clean and remove any food debris from the tooth. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt to a cup of warm, salted water. Give it a quick stir and then let it sit for a while. This can kill bacteria that could lead to damage to the exposed tooth.
- Your dental hygiene routine should take good care of the tooth. You should gently brush the area where the filling is.
- Avoid chewing on areas of exposed teeth.
- Use dental wax or temporary filling material, available online, to protect the exposed tooth. This is temporary until you have the filling fixed by your dentist.
Kenneth Rothschild (DDS), a 40-year veteran general dentist, stated that “usually a dental practice will do its best to see your in a timely fashion.”
What happens if your dentist isn’t available soon?
Rothschild advised that in such cases, he recommends a new dentist.
If your dentist is unable to see you within two days, they may have specific suggestions and recommendations for what you should do before your appointment.
The Healthline FindCare tool can provide options in your area if you don’t already have a doctor.
If you find yourself in pain and need to wait several days to see your dentist, here are some suggestions:
- Take an over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) like ibuprofen to reduce pain and swelling.
- Apply clove oil to the exposed tooth and gum or use a whole clove. You can buy clove oil online or at a pharmacy.
- Use a cold compress or an ice pack for 15 minutes at a time to relieve pain and swelling.
- You can temporarily numb the gums and tooth with a topical anesthetic such as Anbesol or Orajel. Grab some online.
It is possible for a filling to become damaged if it is not replaced within a few weeks.
Food particles and bacteria can get stuck in the space, leading to decay. Dentin can also be exposed by a missing filling. This is the second layer of teeth beneath the hard outer enamel. Dentin, which is less hard than enamel, is more susceptible to decay. Exposed dentin can also be very sensitive.
More extensive work may be required to repair any further decay or damage, such as a crown, root-canal, or extraction. This is why it’s important to replace your filling as soon as possible.
You may be eligible for a discount if your dentist has just completed the original filling.
Rothschild said that if the dentist tells you that your filling was recent, they will likely make some adjustments for goodwill.
Rothschild stated that “but there may be extenuating conditions that could affect this negotiations.” It should be determined among other factors:
- What is the age of the filling
- Although a crown was initially recommended, the patient preferred a cheaper (and less strong) filling.
- If the filling was damaged or lost due to trauma such as an injury or accident,
If you do not receive a reduced rate, your replacement filling will likely cost the same as a new one. If the underlying dentin or pulp is damaged or has decay, you may need additional dental procedures, such as a root canal or a crown.
Insurance will cover the replacement.
Different plans can be purchased for dental insurance. The majority of plans cover at least part of the cost of fillings. This includes replacing a filling that was not completed recently.
Some plans may have waiting periods and deductibles. It’s a good idea to verify with your plan about coverage and out of pocket costs.
The lifetime of a filling depends on the materials used and your personal dental hygiene.
Fillings last longer if you are diligent about keeping your gums and teeth healthy and visiting your dentist regularly.
Rothschild stated that size and position can also affect the life expectancy of a filling.
“Like all structural materials, fillings have limitations in strength. This is particularly true for large fillings, which are expected to absorb a high functional (chewing stress) load or are used vertically to lengthen teeth.
Here are some time frames for certain filling materials.
- Fillings for amalgam: 5 to 25 Years
- Composite fillings: 5-15 years
- Fillings with gold: 15 to 30 Years
To prevent a filling from falling out, it is important to maintain good oral hygiene and have regular checkups. Here are some guidelines for maintaining good oral hygiene.
- Brush your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day.
- Floss your teeth every day.
- Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months.
- Cleanse your tongue with a toothbrush to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.
- For cleanings and checkups, see your dentist often.
A checkup at least once every six months is a good idea to detect any problems early on, before the filling becomes loose or causes other problems. Your dentist will tell you if your filling needs to be replaced or if it is damaged.
These tips are just a few of the preventive measures you can take to protect your filling.
- Avoid grinding your teeth. If this is an issue, especially if you grind your teeth while sleeping, there are remedies. There are several options, including wearing a mouthguard and splint.
- Avoid chewing sharp objects such as ice.
- Avoid eating hard foods such as nuts, hard candy, and toasted bagels.
- Avoid clenching your teeth.
- Avoid sticky and sugary foods. These foods can stick on your teeth, cause cavities, and dislodge fillings.
- Consult your dentist if you feel the filling is becoming sensitive to heat or cold.
Fillings that are done well can last a lifetime, but only if they are maintained properly.
Seek out your dentist immediately if you have a broken filling. Too many waiting can lead to tooth decay.
You should keep the area clean and avoid chewing or eating on it until you see your dentist.
Replacement fillings are about the same price as original ones. You should check with your dental insurance to see what is covered and any extra costs.