Updated on February 9, 2024
6 min read

Tooth Filling Fell Out

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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.

Molar tooth fissure restoration with filling fell out

If you have tooth decay that extends into the nerve of the tooth, a root canal and dental crown may be necessary.

What Should I Do if My Filling Fell Out?

Don’t panic if your filling falls out. There are a few steps to take to ensure the tooth is protected and fixed quickly:

1. Call Your Dentist Immediately

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.

2. Protect The Tooth (Temporary Solutions) 

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. 

3. What to Do if You’re in Pain

If you’re in pain, you can do the following to relieve it:

  • Take over-the-counter pain medication – If the tooth is causing discomfort, take pain medication such as Ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol). Do not take more than the recommended daily dosage.  
  • Apply a numbing agent – Orajel™ Severe Toothache & Gum Relief Plus Triple Medicated Gel is the most commonly used ointment for oral pain.
  • Use an ice pack – If the affected area is swollen, an ice pack can help reduce the swelling. Wrap the ice pack in a cloth and then apply it to the affected area for at least 20 minutes.
  • Apply clove oil to the exposed area – An active compound found in cloves called eugenol has anti-inflammatory and numbing properties. You can buy clove oil at the drugstore or online.

5. What Not to Do 

Here’s what not to do when you experience a tooth filling falling out:

  • Don’t wait to make a dentist appointment 
  • Try to chew all food on the opposite side of the missing filling
  • Refrain from touching the affected area 
  • Avoid clenching your teeth
  • Avoid chewing on hard food and objects, including ice

What Does it Feel Like When a Filling Falls 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:

  • Trapped food where the filling should be
  • Noticing a cracked food in the tooth
  • Feeling discomfort when eating

When is Losing a Filling a Dental Emergency?

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. 

Molar tooth fissure restoration with filling

How Much Does it Cost to Replace a Filling that Fell Out?

The prices below reflect the cost of dental fillings without insurance:

  • Composite fillings — $90-$300 (per tooth)
  • Glass Ionomer fillings — $90-$300 (per tooth)
  • Silver amalgam fillings — $50-$200 (per tooth)
  • Gold fillings — $500-$4,500 (per tooth)

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.

What Makes a Filling Fall Out (Potential Causes)?

Dental fillings need to be replaced every 5 to 30 years. However, fillings may fall out prematurely for other reasons, such as:

New Cavity Under or Around the Filling

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. 

A Chemical Reaction

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.

Trauma to the Affected Tooth

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.

Excessive Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)

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.

Eating Sticky, Crunchy, or Hard food

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.

How to Make Cavity Fillings Last

To prevent a filling from falling out, you must remember to:

  • Remove plaque by brushing your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes
  • Floss daily and rinse with mouthwash
  • Maintain a good oral hygiene routine
  • Replace your toothbrush or toothbrush head every three months
  • Limit your intake of sugary snacks, which is the leading cause of cavity formation
  • Limit or avoid sticky and crunchy foods (such as hard candy)
  • Drink more water and limit soda, juices, and acidic substances
  • Avoid toothpicks and chewing on pen caps, which can cause damage
  • Visit your general dentist twice a year for routine checkups, X-rays, and teeth cleanings 

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. 

Last updated on February 9, 2024
7 Sources Cited
Last updated on February 9, 2024
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
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