What is a Dental Filling?

dental filling

What To Do If Your Filling Falls Out:

 What is a Dental Filling?

A filling is a material your dentist uses to fill the hole made when he removes decay or repairs a broken tooth (there are several different types of material used in dental fillings). A filling may fall out because of new decay around the area or because of wear and tear on the tooth (in some cases caused by chewing or grinding).

Sometimes a lost filling is more obvious than others – in some cases, you may feel the filling or notice the space in your tooth. In other cases, you may not even notice it has fallen out.  Also, be aware of unexplained tooth pain and new sensitivity to hot and cold, as these could be signs that a filling is becoming worn or lose.


Regular dental care is recommended to detect potential problems with fillings. The dentist can identify open margins or uneven wear before you realize there may be a problem. Dental visits can also provide instruction in proper oral hygiene to control bacterial plaque, a leading cause of tooth decay. Decay that forms around the margin of a filling will compromise that restoration. Without regular care, you could suddenly be wondering what to do if your filling falls out.

What is a Dental Filling?

As with most unexpected dental concerns, the first rules are don’t panic and call your Laguna Hills dentist right away. You don’t want to leave sensitive underlying areas of the tooth exposed, so make sure to get your missing filling taken care of by a professional as quickly as possible.

First, check your mouth for the missing filling or any pieces of broken tooth and carefully take them out to avoid swallowing or inhaling. Then call your dentist and let the receptionist know you’ve lost a filling. Your dental office in Laguna Hills, CA generally reserves emergency spots every week and can usually find a way to get you in the chair quickly.

Meanwhile, there are a few things you can do to stay comfortable and avoid infection while waiting to see the dentist. Avoid chewing on the affected side to help reduce pain and keep the area clean. Brush the exposed area very gently and rinse with saltwater—an old-fashioned salt water rinse not only helps safely clean the area but also reduces pain.

If the exposed area is especially sensitive, you may want to consider a temporary filling. Commercial products made of zinc oxide are available at most drugstores. But remember, even if this option helps temporarily, it’s not a substitute for a visit to your Laguna Hills dentist. The temporary filling isn’t designed to last, and there may be new decay on the affected tooth that your dentist will need to treat.

In fact, new decay is one of the most common reasons for a lost filling. Other factors that can cause fillings to become loose are impact from grinding or clenching of teeth, injury, or (as many of us know) simply biting down on the wrong thing.

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Steps if your filling fell out

It's important to know what to do when your tooth filling falls out:

  • Keep the filling so the dentistcan determine if it should be used after it's been cleaned, or if it should be replaced.
  • Gently brush the teetharound the affected tooth and clean your mouth and teeth by rinsing with water or mouth wash.
  • Numb your gums and tooth with oil of clove by rubbing it gently where the filling has come out. This helps to alleviate any discomfort.
  • Mold dental wax into the tooth so it temporarily fills the void.
  • If pain persists, take medication such as Tylenol and ibuprofen to help lessen the pain. Follow the instructions closely for proper usage prior to seeing your dentist.
  • Book an appointment with your dentist at the earliest possible date so that the exposed gap can be refilled and chances of further decay development can be reduced.
  • Chew on the unaffected part of your mouth to keep food away from your affected tooth. Avoid food that can cause further decay or induce pain to the affected area.

Foods to avoid

Here are five foods to stay away from right after getting a filling:

Sweet and sticky: Gums, caramel, toffee, candies and dried fruit are sweet and sticky. Such foods leave deposits on the filling and invite bacteria to feed on it, destroying the hard tissues of the tooth over time. 

Hard: Biting on hard foods such as nuts, hard candy, pizza crust, uncooked carrots, whole apples, celery and ice can crack teeth and aggravate sensitivity in tooth that has been filled. Avoid excessive chewing after the filling as it takes a while to harden. Have liquids like broth and soup or soft foods like rice and mashed potatoes instead.

Cold: Avoid foods like ice cream and ice drinks which may cause pain due to tooth sensitivity right after a tooth filling. Sip cold drinks with a straw to minimize contact with your teeth.

Hot: Once the tooth is filled, you may experience sensitivity due to the composition of your tooth and the filling. Avoid hot liquids such as soup, coffee and tea that can cause pain in the newly filled sensitive tooth.

Acidic: Lemons, limes, oranges, soft drinks, citrus juices and foods with a high concentration of tomatoes or pickles, can wear away tooth enamel and worsen tooth sensitivity. Acid in these foods and drinks can erode and dissolve the tooth surface, revealing the protective dentine layer which is hard tissue that makes up the tooth.

Erosive drinks: Fizzy drinks corrode the teeth by eroding enamel because of their high acid content. The high amount of sugar consumed through soft drinks cause bacteria to develop and attack the teeth. This loosens the filling over time, causing it to eventually fall out.


10 common question about dental filling

1How long do dental fillings last?
Lack of durability -- composite fillings wear out sooner than amalgam fillings (lasting at least five years compared with at least 10 to 15 for amalgams); in addition, they may not last as long as amalgam fillings under the pressure of chewing and particularly if used for large cavities.
2Which dental filling is best?
Dental amalgam is the most common type of dental filling. It's strong, durable, and less expensive than other types. Composite fillings, or white fillings, are popular because the color matches the rest of your teeth. Composite fillings are a combination of resin and plastic.
3How is a dental filling done?
Once the dentist confirms you're numb, they use a dental drill to remove the decay. After your dentist removes the decay and readies the tooth, they place the filling. ... Composites are placed in layers that eventually fill the cavity completely. ... Amalgam is a mixture of several metals including silver, tin, and mercury.
4Is a white filling better than silver?
Silver fillings are also less expensive than white fillings, so they're good for your bottom line. The main advantage of white fillings is their color. If you develop a cavity in a highly visible part of your mouth, you may prefer a tooth-colored filling.
5Do fillings weaken teeth?
Fillings can 'do more harm than good', researchers warn. "Having a filling can increase the risk of tooth decay in neighbouring teeth," reports The Times. Researchers found evidence that, in some cases, fillings were more of a stop-gap than a cure for tooth decay – and could even actually contribute to the problem.
6Are cavities too big for fillings?
The simple answer is that a cavity is decay nearer to the surface of the tooth, not in the root, and can easily be fixed with a filling. When a root canal is needed, there is severe decay and an infection deep in the tooth pulp that will become worse over time.
7Do dentists still use amalgam fillings?
"Amalgam fillings are safe. A great deal of research has examined these fillings and found them to be an effective, long-lasting treatment for dental decay. Amalgam, or silver, fillings are made with mercury, silver, tin and copper. ... Amalgam has been used for many years to replace decayed areas within teeth.
8Do cavities hurt to get filled?
When a person has a cavity in their tooth, a dentist will probably recommend a filling. Fillings are safe and effective, but some people might experience discomfort or tooth sensitivity afterward. Most of the time, this sensitivity is normal and will resolve within a few days or weeks.
9What is the healthiest tooth filling?
Silver Fillings According to the American Dental Association (ADA), amalgam is an ideal substance for dental restorations because it's durable, easy to use, highly resistant to wear, and cost-effective.
10Which tooth filling is safest?
Answer: Amalgam fillings are safe. A great deal of research has examined these fillings and found them to be an effective, long-lasting treatment for dental decay. Amalgam, or silver, fillings are made with mercury, silver, tin and copper.


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