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Cavity fillings, also called dental fillings or tooth fillings, are dental restorations that restore minor to moderate cavities in teeth. Fillings can be tooth-colored, gold, or silver.
People may receive a dental filling if their cavity hasn't extended to the tooth's pulp or root. A more intensive restoration, like an onlay or inlay is recommended if the cavity is deep and covers a large portion of the tooth.
If you have tooth decay that extends into the nerve of the tooth, a root canal and dental crown may be necessary.
Don’t panic if your filling falls out. There are a few steps to take to ensure the tooth is protected and fixed quickly:
The first thing you should do if your filling falls out is to see your dentist immediately. Tell them when you lost the filling and if it’s causing any pain.
Then make an appointment with them to get a replacement filling. If your dentist is unavailable, ask them how to protect the exposed tooth in the meantime. You can also ask if it is necessary to visit a different dentist.
However, if you're experiencing mild tooth pain, you can wait up to 3 days for treatment.
While you wait for your appointment, it’s important to protect the exposed tooth and prevent further damage:
First, you’ll want to gargle with salt water (a natural antibacterial agent). Rinsing the mouth with salt water can help reduce pain and inflammation and prevent bacteria buildup. Combine 8 ounces of warm water with half a teaspoon of salt. Swish the rinse in your mouth for 30 seconds and spit it out.
After disinfecting your mouth, you can apply a temporary filling material (dental cement) onto the tooth. You can find temporary filling kits online or at a drugstore. Your dentist will remove this temporary solution before applying the new filling.
If you're in pain, you can do the following to relieve it:
Here's what not to do when you experience a tooth filling falling out:
You may experience pain and sensitivity around the affected tooth when a filling falls out.
The tooth tissues under the lost filling will be exposed to air, pressure, cold, and heat. This can be uncomfortable and will likely make eating, drinking, and chewing difficult.
Other symptoms of a filling that has fallen out include:
A missing filling is rarely an emergency. It may qualify for urgent dental care if the pain is severe or you experience bleeding and inflamed gums. In most cases, you can wait up to 3 days for treatment.
Dental emergencies are any mouth-related incidents requiring urgent medical attention and treatment.
Some examples of dental emergencies include broken teeth, knocked-out teeth, extreme toothaches, dental abscesses, and ongoing gum bleeding.
The prices below reflect the cost of dental fillings without insurance:
Not all dental insurance plans will cover dental fillings. So if your filling falls out, you must determine if your dental insurance will cover a new filling. Insurance has frequency limitations for dental fillings.
You will need to pay for a new dental filling. Your dentist cannot recement an old filling in your tooth.
Dental fillings need to be replaced every 5 to 30 years. However, fillings may fall out prematurely for other reasons, such as:
The seal between the filling and the tooth can break down, especially if you eat many acidic or sugary foods.
If this seal breaks, decay-causing bacteria and food particles can accumulate underneath the filling. This can result in tooth decay and may cause the existing filling to fall out.
The bond between the filling and tooth can also break down from a chemical reaction.
White fillings are known to “shrink” over time, causing bacteria leakage into the seal between the tooth and filling.
Accidents, trauma, and facial injuries can loosen dental restorations, including fillings. This is because the hit can be too strong for the filling to stay in place.
Bruxism is the habit of clenching and grinding the teeth, typically during sleep. This habit can lead to loose dental restorations.
If you're a “heavy bruxer,” your fillings may become loose quicker. During a routine dental exam, your dentist can examine your teeth to see if signs of bruxism are present.
Your dentist may recommend an occlusal splint if your enamel is worn down. This mouthguard protects your teeth (and fillings) from the damaging effects of bruxism.
These types of food can loosen dental restorations since they can put extra pressure on the tooth or dislodge the dental filling. Refrain from eating them in excess if you have dental fillings. Eat more healthy foods low in sugar and acidity.
To prevent a filling from falling out, you must remember to:
Composite fillings (tooth-colored) can last at least 5 years and up to 15 years with proper care. Glass ionomer fillings (another tooth-colored filling) can last up to 5 years. Silver and gold fillings last the longest, up to 30 years.
If a dental filling falls out, it is important to take action quickly. Home remedies such as salt water rinses and numbing agents can help reduce pain and inflammation in the meantime. However, contacting your dentist immediately is always recommended to have the exposed tooth examined and treated.
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