Dental fillings are often used to repair decay or minor fractures in the teeth. This form of restorative dental treatment involves “filling” the area of the damaged tooth with filling material like amalgam, composite, ceramic, or gold.
Fillings generally last around ten years before they need to be replaced. Your dental hygiene, eating habits, decay around the filling, trauma to the tooth, and tooth grinding habits can affect the lifespan of a filling.
Sometimes a filling can fall out prematurely due to chewing too hard, biting into hard or crunchy foods, or from new decay around the filling. When this happens, you want to act quickly to minimize discomfort and prevent infection.
Signs that You’ve Lost a Filling
It is not always clear if you have lost a dental filling, especially if the filling was small or located in the back of the mouth. However, there are some signs that could indicate that all or a piece of your filling has been lost. Sudden pain in the treated tooth and extreme sensitivity to hot and cold foods are some of the most common signs. You may also feel a small hole, crack, or indentation in the tooth when you run your tongue against it.
Steps to Take at Home
If your dental filling is loose or has fallen out, you’ll want to have it replaced as soon as possible. In the meantime, there are certain steps to take to keep your mouth clean and protect the exposed tooth.
- Contact your dentist and explain the situation. Most dentists will attempt to see a patient that has lost a filling the same day. Tell your dentist if you are in pain so that the practice can better gauge the severity of the problem. Ask the dentist for suggestions on how to protect the exposed tooth from damage while you wait.
- Mix ½ teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water and gargle. Saltwater will help to rinse away any food debris that may be on or near the affected tooth. It will also help kill bacteria that could damage the exposed tooth.
- If you’re not able to see your Clermont dentist the same day, continue to practice good oral hygiene. When brushing, be very gentle around the exposed tooth. If you eat, avoid chewing on the exposed area. Temporary filling material or dental wax may be a suitable solution to protect the exposed tooth until the filling can be replaced.
What to Expect at the Dentist Office
When you arrive at your dentist in Clermont after losing your filling, a dental professional will examine the tooth. Additionally, they may take X-rays. Depending on the state of the tooth and the severity of the damage, the dentist may suggest several treatment options.
If the damage to the tooth is not extensive, the dentist may recommend simply refilling the tooth. The type of filling suggested will depend on the location of the tooth. Amalgam (silver), composite, or glass ionomer (tooth-colored) fillings are often recommended for molars and premolars. Front teeth, including incisors and canines, are often filled with composite or glass ionomer fillings.
If the dentist discovers that there is a deep cavity in the tooth or that there is exposure to the tooth’s nerve, a root canal may be recommended. A root canal is a treatment used to save a badly infected or damaged tooth. During the procedure, the diseased pulp is removed and the root canals are cleaned. The root canals are then filled and the tooth is usually restored with a crown or cap.
If the tooth is severely damaged or infected and a root canal is not an option, you may need to have the tooth extracted. If a tooth is removed, your Clermont dentist may recommend a treatment plan for replacing your tooth, such as a dental implant or removable bridge.
Speak with a Dentist in Clermont, FL
When a dental filling falls out, the tooth becomes exposed and vulnerable. Fortunately, lost fillings are generally simple to repair. If you had a filling fall out, reach out to the dental team at Hancock Village Dental to schedule an appointment.