All of a sudden you feel a crunch when you bite down, maybe accompanied by a little bit of pain. That’s when you realize a tooth filling fell out.
There are several reasons why you may have just lost a filling. First thing’s first. Call your dentist right now so you can set up an appointment to get it fixed. Then finish reading this so you know why you need it replaced ASAP and what to do while you wait on your appointment to roll around.
What a Filling Does
When you get a cavity, your dentist will remove that tooth decay to prevent it from spreading. The dentist can’t just leave a hole in your tooth after that. It leaves your tooth vulnerable to the elements. It will start to decay again, end up causing you pain, and eventually have to be removed altogether.
Instead, the dentist will fill that hole in with a substance to close that gap and seal the tooth to prevent any further damage.
There are several different types of fillings, including gold, silver amalgam, and composite fillings. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages. You’ll have to choose based on price and aesthetics in the event that you need a filling. Some options will be more cost-effective, but you’ll be sacrificing a little in the looks department.
No matter what you choose, the important thing is that your once damaged tooth is now protected.
Fixing Your Lost Filling
As we already mentioned, the first thing you need to do is call your dentist. If you didn’t do that, GO DO IT RIGHT NOW. You need to get an appointment set up to have the filling fixed as soon as possible to prevent any damage to the affected area.
Next, you need to clean the area where the filling was. You can gargle some saltwater to help flush out any food particles and kill any germs that may be in the cavity.
Until you get the filling replaced, your oral hygiene routine will be even more important than usual. Make sure you’re brushing and flossing often, paying close attention to the tooth where the filling fell out. Gently brush around the area to make sure you’re getting rid of food particles. You should also avoid chewing in that area to help keep as much food away from it as possible.
With the inner part of the tooth exposed, you may be feeling some pain. You can use one of the popular home remedies for tooth pain relief to help you get by until your appointment. Using dental wax to temporarily fill the cavity is another option to consider if the tooth is bothering you or you’re having trouble keeping it clean.
How Long a Filling Should Last
There are several factors that go into the longevity of a tooth filling, the first of which is the material used. According to Healthline, here are the general timeframes:
- Silver amalgam: 5 – 25 years
- Composite: 5 – 15 years
- Gold: 15 – 30 years
Now, that’s a really wide range for how long those materials are good for. That’s because the longevity will also depend on how well you care for your teeth.
If you’re diligent with your dental hygiene and keep your teeth and gums properly maintained, including regular visits to the dentist, you’ll be able to get the full lifespan out of those fillings. If you’re not taking proper care of your mouth, you’ll be back in the dentist’s chair for new fillings much faster.
By not practicing good oral hygiene, your tooth is more likely to develop new decay around the site of the filling, which can eventually cause it to fall out. Some other causes of a lost filling include:
- Biting down on something hard (like ice or hard candy)
- Bruxism (teeth grinding)
- Saliva loosening the filling’s bond with the tooth.
How to Tell a Filling is Going Bad
A lot of the time there are warning signs that your filling is getting ready to fall out.
You might notice the contours of your teeth just don’t feel right. You know those times when your tongue just keeps going to one spot in your mouth because something feels a little weird? If it’s going right to a specific tooth, that could be an indicator that a filling has changed somehow and may be damaged.
Another indicator is increased sensitivity. If a filling is loose, that leaves space for food or drink to get past the enamel of your tooth and aggravate the pulp underneath. If you’re noticing your teeth are more sensitive to heat or cold, it might be because of a filling that has come loose or broken.
You will need to see your dentist to know for sure if a filling is loose. The only way to know for sure is a thorough evaluation.
Practices for Prevention
As with most things dealing with your oral health, it always goes back to your hygiene habits. You have to brush and floss daily to keep your teeth and gums in good shape. Don’t forget to replace your toothbrush every few months, too.
Seeing your dentist every 6 months for checkups and teeth cleanings is also critical in preventing any issues or catching them before they turn into major problems.