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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.
A filling is indicated if a patient’s cavity has not extended to the tooth’s pulp or root.
If the cavity is deep and covers a large portion of the tooth, a more extensive restoration like an onlay or inlay may be recommended.
If you have tooth decay that extends into the nerve of the tooth, a root canal and dental crown may be necessary.
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.
To prevent a filling from falling out, it is essential to:
Dental fillings need to be replaced every 5 to 30 years. However, sometimes fillings fall out prematurely for other reasons such as:
When a filling falls out, you may experience pain and sensitivity around the affected tooth. The tooth tissues under the lost filling will be exposed to air, pressure, cold, and hot. This can be uncomfortable and will likely make eating, drinking, and chewing difficult.
Don’t panic if your filling falls out. There are a few steps to take to ensure the tooth is protected and fixed quickly:
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The first thing you should do if your filling falls out is call your dentist. Let them know 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 doesn’t have availability, ask them how to keep the exposed tooth protected in the meantime. You can also ask if it is necessary to visit a different dentist.
If you are 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, inflammation, and prevent bacteria buildup. Combine 8 ounces of warm water with a half teaspoon of salt. Swish the rinse around in your mouth for 30 seconds and spit it out.
After disinfecting your mouth, apply a temporary filling (dental cement) onto the tooth. Your dentist will remove this temporary solution before applying the new filling.
Dental emergencies are any incidents involving the mouth that require urgent medical attention and treatment. Some examples of dental emergencies include broken teeth, knocked out teeth, extreme toothaches, dental abscesses, and ongoing gum bleeding.
A missing filling is rarely an emergency. It may qualify for urgent dental care if the pain is severe or if your gums are bleeding and inflamed. In most cases, you can wait up to 3 days for treatment.
If your filling falls out, you will need to find out if your dental insurance will cover a new filling. Insurance has frequency limitations for dental fillings.
If it is not covered you will need to pay for a new one. Your dentist cannot recement an old filling onto your tooth. The prices below reflect the cost of dental fillings without insurance:
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