Whether it happens when you are eating, flossing or brushing your teeth, suddenly losing a filling is a somewhat traumatic event for most people. Not only is it an odd sensation to be missing part of your tooth, there can also be tooth sensitivity and a good deal of pain now that the tooth is exposed.
Most fillings, especially older ones, will not last forever. Regular dental visits every six months allows your dentist to keep an eye on fillings that are at risk. But, if a filling does come out in between dental visits, you need to know what to do to protect your teeth and to alleviate the pain.
Remove the Filling
First, remove the filling from your mouth so that you don’t accidentally swallow it or breathe it in. Most fillings will pass without a problem if swallowed, but can cause an infection in your lungs if accidentally inhaled. Your second step is to call your dentist immediately to schedule an appointment to have the filling replaced.
Practice Excellent Oral Hygiene
If you can’t see your dentist right away, you need to practice excellent oral hygiene around the area where the filling used to be. An unfilled tooth can trap food which then causes harmful bacteria to accumulate. Brush gently and carefully inside the hole where the filling was to remove all food debris. You can also rinse your mouth out with warm salt water after eating, to flush food away from the unfilled tooth. You make a good salt water rinse by combining one cup of warm water and one teaspoon of salt.
Use a Temporary Filling Material
Losing a filling can also expose nerves that make your tooth sensitive to both hot and cold. The sensitivity can be quite painful and over the counter pain medications can help. You can also try to stop the source of the pain by covering up the exposed area with a temporary filling material such as a piece of sugar-free gum. Don’t use sugar-filled gum, as the sugar will cause pain. You can also use an over-the-counter dental cement. Keeping a dental emergency kit handy will prepare you to immediately address common dental emergencies. Designed for temporary use until you can get to a dentist, some kits contain everything you need to handle situations ranging from toothaches to lost crowns and fillings.
See Your Dentist
It is important to remember that these temporary filling materials are only meant to last for a few days at most. You still need to see your dentist as soon as possible. Many dentists have times set aside in their schedules for lost fillings or other dental problems. When making the appointment, ask if they want to you keep the filling or not. In most cases there’s no need to save the filling; however, there are some cases where the dentist may want to see it.
If you are careful not to further damage the tooth and practice good oral hygiene and then get to your dentist in a timely manner, there should be no reason why your dentist can not treat the tooth with another filling. Be aware, though, that in some cases the loss of the filling may have been caused by damage to the tooth or a deep cavity under the filling. In this case, your dentist will present a treatment plan to address this.