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