Dealing with cavities is never fun, but having dental fillings fall out is even less fun. Do not worry, though, there are various ways to deal with this until you can see the dentist.
What can cause a filling to fall out?
If a newer dental filling has fallen out, the reason could be improper cavity preparation, contamination of the preparation prior to placement or a fracture of the restoration from biting or chewing trauma.
Older dental fillings will typically fall out due to decay, typical “wear and tear” or a fracture to the remaining tooth. According to a report in the National Institute of Health online journal, amalgam (silver-colored) fillings last an average of 12 years. Composite (tooth-colored) fillings last about five to seven years.
What should you do?
Remove the dental filling
The first thing to do is to remove the filling from your mouth to ensure that you do not accidentally swallow or inhale it. Swallowed fillings generally pass harmlessly through your digestive system. Inhaled fillings, however, can cause serious infections and complications in your respiratory system.
To keep or not to keep
Dentists have differing opinions of whether you need to keep the piece of dental filling that fell out. Some dentists want to see the piece to help them determine what happened to cause it to dislodge. Other dentists feel that the only reason to keep the filling is if it is a gold filling or ceramic inlay that can be cleaned and reapplied. You should probably keep the piece until you talk to your dentist and find out what they want you to do with it.
Call the dentist.
The hole in your tooth left by your dislodged filling puts your tooth at great risk for infection and further decay processes. Call your dentist as soon as possible to schedule an appointment. Be sure to follow all their instructions for caring for the tooth until you can get in to see them.
Keep it clean
The increased risk of infection and decay process requires enhanced oral hygiene practice. Make sure to keep the area clean. This can be done by gently brushing the area with toothpaste and lukewarm water. Some dentists also recommend a salt-water rinse. Mix one cup of warm water with one teaspoon of salt. Gently swish the mixture in your mouth and around the affected tooth to help remove food debris and keep bacteria at bay.
If you cannot see your dentist immediately, ask about using a temporary filling product. There are several over-the-counter products that can help plug up the hole until one can see the dentist. Temparin and Dentemp OS are just two of the products that can help.
If you do use a temporary filling product, remember that as the name states, it is a temporary filling. This means it will not be able to hold up as well as a regular dental filling. Stay away from chewy, sticky foods, like candies and bubble gum. Also, steer clear from harder foods, like nuts, and crunchy vegetables, like broccoli.
If you or someone you know has lost a filling, it is important to get immediate care in order to prevent any complications. Contact our office today so we can help fix your missing filling and get you back on your routine.
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