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Filling Fell Out? Why You Should Get a Lost Filling Replaced

Lost Filling from ToothI got an email earlier this week from a reader named Trish.  She asked the following:

"What will happen if the filling comes out of your tooth, and you don't have it replaced, other than pain trying to eat?"

Before I answer that question, let's take a look at why fillings fall out.  A  filling normally doesn't fall out of your tooth just for fun - it usually has a pretty good reason!  Fillings can come out because of decay around the filling, because the filling cracked, or because it wasn't put in properly.

Basically, if your filling fell out, chances are that there was something wrong and you should get your tooth looked at by a dentist.

If the filling came out and it was recently put in, your dentist might give you a break and put a new filling in.  If it was an old filling and it just came out, you may have a cavity under the filling.

Regardless of why the filling fell out, it's important to replace it.  To answer Trish's question, here's a list of eight things that could happen to your tooth if your filling fell out and you don't have it replaced.

Eight Things that Can Happen If You Don't Replace a Lost Filling

1 - Sensitivity

When you lose a filling, it exposes the sensitive dentin (the inner hard layer of your tooth) to your mouth.  Depending on how close the filling was to the pulp of your tooth, it could hurt all the time or only when you eat, as Trish mentioned above.  Either way, the pain means that there's something wrong that needs to get taken care of!

Not sure what dentin and pulp are?  Check out my article on the anatomy of a tooth to find out!

2 - Root Canal

The pulp inside of your tooth could get irritated, causing pulpitis.  The textbook Clinical Endodontics by Leif Tronstad states, "Factors leading to an infectious pulpitis are conditions that contribute to the exposure of the dentin and dentinal tubules to the oral environment."

3 - It's Harder to Clean

Teeth are hard to clean when they have a big gaping hole in them.  Even if you can get the toothbrush bristles down to the bottom of the hole where the filling was, chances are that you won't be able to easily clean out the entire hole where the filling was located.

4 - Bad Breath

When you eat food, the natural contours of the teeth allow you to efficiently chew and grind the food into little, easily-digested pieces.  When you have a hole in your tooth and you chew, you push the food down into the hole.  Since teeth with lost fillings are more difficult to clean (see #3), that food could be sitting in there for quite some time and cause your breath to be less than pleasant to those around you!  Even if you do have bad breath, people probably aren't going to tell you.

5 - Tooth Decay

Because the tooth is harder to clean and you're grinding food into it every time you eat, it's much easier for you to get a cavity in that tooth.  If the reason that you lost the filling was because you had a cavity under it, the cavity will probably get bigger the longer treatment is put off.

6 - The Tooth Could Crack or Break

If the tooth goes for a long time with a lost filling, it may develop a cavity, which can subsequently weaken the tooth structure and cause the tooth to break or crack.  Without the filling, the tooth will also experience different forces that end up causing it to break.

7 - Difficulty Repairing Tooth With a White Filling

When you lose a filling and expose the dentin to your saliva, the dentin reacts by trying to fight off the bacteria.  The little tubules inside the dentin eventually close off to try to protect the nerve of the tooth.  When this happens, it is known as sclerotic dentin.  A problem with sclerotic dentin is that it is much harder to get a white filling to bond to sclerotic dentin than it is to get a white filling to bond to regular dentin.

8 - The Tooth May Need to Be Extracted

If you wait too long, the tooth may break and become so badly decayed that it is what dentists like to call unrestorable.  That means that just like Humpty Dumpty, nobody will be able to put that tooth back together again, and it will have to come out.

What Are Your Options When a Filling Falls Out?

I assume that Trish wants to know what would happen because she either has a fear of the dentist or can't afford to get a new filling right now.

If fear is keeping you away from the dentist, take a look at this article about reasons people are scared of the dentist, and then figure out your fear and try to overcome it.  There is help available online at sites like Dental Fear Central.

If cost is keeping you away from the dentist, then you can call your dentist and ask how much a temporary filling would cost.  A temporary filling would allow you to get the tooth filled fairly inexpensively until you can save up for a permanent filling.  An even more temporary solution is to try some temporary filling materials until you can see your dentist.  I talk about a few different brands in my article about what you should do when you lose a filling from your tooth.

Conclusion

If you have a filling come out, it's necessary to get the filling replaced as soon as possible to ensure the long-term health of your tooth.  If you can't afford it, there are temporary solutions available that you dentist may discuss with you.

Do you have any questions, comments, or concerns about losing a filling from your tooth?  Go ahead and leave a comment in the comments section below and I'll get back to you.  Thanks for reading!


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36 Comments |  Leave A Comment

  1. Hey there,

    My filling came out this morning - when I was flossing, at all times. I have had the filling for as long as I can remember.
    It was a back tooth. Sorry I am so naive on the subject of teeth, so I will try to explain it the way I have explained to a friend. 1 back top tooth divided into 4. 1/4 of the tooth/the filling that was in place of the 1/4 has come out.
    My friend said it looks like it will get pulled out - I definitely do not want that to happen, but I know I cannot afford a root canal.
    So my question is, will they pull my tooth or just replace the filling?

    Kindest Regards
    Melanie

    • Hi Melanie - Since the filling fell out, I am guessing that there may be a cavity underneath it. If that cavity has hit the nerve in your tooth, you would need a root canal. If not, the filling could be replaced.

      I hope that helps - Thanks for your comment, Melanie. Let me know if you have any other questions.

  2. Hi, my filling fell out yesterday or today - how long should I wait until seeing a dentist? I made an appointment for next Wednesday to the one that my periodontist recommended. Is that too long?

    Thanks, Russ

    • Hi Russ - It may have fallen out because there is decay around it. If you're not in pain, you may be fine to wait until next Wednesday. Decay can move slowly - it's important to keep the area clean and to make sure that food doesn't get caught in the area where the filling was.

      I hope that helps - Thanks for your comment, Russ. Let me know if you have any other questions.

  3. Hey : )

    My had a root canal over 4 years ago, and recently my filling fell out. I have been abit slack and havent gone and got it filled yet because it hasnt caused me a great deal of pain, only when it first fell out but no more pain.

    I have noticed for the past week or so a lump forming on the gums on the top of my mouth near the tooth that the filling fell out. Could this be connected? Im not in any pain at all.

    • Hi Courtney - The lump could be an abscess or a cyst that has formed if bacteria have entered into your tooth's nerve and caused an infection. The only way to be certain would be to be examined by a dentist and have an x-ray taken. Tooth infections aren't always painful.

      I hope that helps - Let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks for your comment, Courtney.

  4. hi my boyfriends filling came out it hurts so bad he can't even talk . I don't know what he can do if he can't go to the dentist yet.?!.

    • Hi Cassie - Most pharmacies sell temporary filling material that you could put in the tooth and that could help ease the pain, but it is most likely something that can only be permanently fixed by going to a dentist.

  5. Hi. I have only got one tiny white filling which I got 3 years ago. I have heard stories where fillings have fallen out (tiny ones) and not had to be replaced, because the enamel has grown back. Is this possible for me? I take real good care of my teeth and fi the tooth surface grew back I could keep my teeth filling-free for the rest of my life.

  6. Hi, I had a filling about a month ago and a week later I suddenly noticed a ping of sensation on that tooth. Since then it pings with more sensitivity whenever I eat anything sweet or cold.
    Does this sound like a lost filling?

  7. Hello there, my filling did not exactly fall out but it seems to be chipped. I'm currently overseas. Is it alright if I see the dentist when i return home which is two weeks later ?

  8. Hi, thanks for the article. I just had a cavity drilled and a filling put in yesterday afternoon on an upper, back (molar?), left tooth. Not sure what kind of filling it was (they used a blue light to harden it). Anyway, the filling fell out that night when I was eating dinner! I'm pretty upset because the operation was very painful..even after an extra shot of numbing stuff. It this a sign of a really poor dentist, or is this common? Should I find a new dentist??? Thank you so much for your time.

  9. I have been going to this new dentist for three years now. Almost every filling I have gotten from him has chipped or fallen out. It's kinda weird to me, because i've never exspereanced anything like this. Yea, I have had filling fall out in the past, but not like this. Every filling or chipped tooth I have had in the past years was from glossing. When I floss, it feels like my tooth is snagging or cutting the floss completely. I'm not sure if it's my teeth or maybe my dentist may be not doing something right. :(
    I want to go to a new dentist, but I feel like I would be a bad person for going elsewhere. All I know is that I need to do something soon. In the past two months I have chipped two more fillings. :(

  10. Don't put off having a filling replaced, I did and now am looking for a dentist I can trust to take care of it... It seems to have abecessed and decayed under the gumline, no pain... Went to a shotty dentist who did three poor quality fillings on me... So please listen to the Dentist and have it filled so your tooth does not break and decay further... Sad part is I never even had a cavity in this tooth - the Dentist did it for the money... I had this comfirmed by another dentist...

  11. Hi,
    i had root canal and my filling fell out.before i brush my teeth, blood comes out out it?i want to know if it is normal or not?

  12. Dear Dentist,
    my son Eric came home over two months ago after getting a very small cavity filled by the dentist. He said it felt like the dentist had not filled the right tooth. I thought I would get it checked when I took another child to the dentist within the next few days. After that he said it felt fine so I foolishly forgot about getting it checked. I didn't think it possible that the dentist could fill the wrong tooth. Fast forward a couple of months and I asked Eric about his tooth and he said it had just started hurting a little so I took him in right away. It turns out the tooth had been drilled but not filled and the doctor filled it and said something vague about how the wisdom teeth had pushed on the tooth causing the filling to fall out....(I'm feeling very uncomfortable about this). Anyways - it's been a couple of days and the tooth is very sensitive and painful. The dentist said it could hurt for up to a week. I've done some reading and it said you could develop pulpitis from a cavity not filled. Is there anything we can do to help the tooth heal - I've been saying a lot of prayers that he will not have to get a root canal and crown as a result of this.
    Thanks
    Janice Gardner (mother)

  13. Hi
    I was having problems with a root canal that was treated 10yrs ago just recently it was hurting went to the dentist and he told me he would send me to another dentist to take it out and refill it again also,bottom jaw teeth need treated too so it will stop before decay can happen,anyway I went to the dentist and also asked. Them if they can put white filling in they said yes they can for both teeth.
    Less then a month they fell out both the top and the bottom she put more filling in same happened and I'm talking about perment filling.
    Every time I went she keep trying to put fillings in,she then said I should see her colleague in her words 2head were better then one oh boy...!!!!
    I couldn't make an appointment as my granddad past away when I finally did the new dentist put them filling which kept falling out the same day,anyway I went back to have my perment filling in she put it,previous to that I told her that my teeth was hurting she resumed me that it would stop after having the permeent filling in,aa week later it fell out ended up in the emergency with swollen face and now I'm on anit for 5 days and the dentist said I either have to have the teeth root canal or taken out!!
    So basically she put perment filling on a tooth that was infected and need to come out...so upset and angry and I would as I went to my own dentist to rejected to help me as I told him iv been 8 times and wasn't happy how they were dealing with my teeth his answer was you'll have to go back as I don't wish to ruin his relationship with the dentist and wouldn't be able to send anybody also there!!!
    I take care of my teeth and can't stop crying the way they have handle me iv be a piece meat they took turns to poke about in my mouth!!!
    Is this normal behaviour????????

  14. $2175 for a root canal here in Lufkin Texas. I am just shocked. I don't want to pull the tooth but but 145 to pull it is so much less.

    • Hi Aaron - Have you checked around at different offices? That does seem on the high side. At my practice in Virginia, our extractions range from $150 to $250 and our root canals from $700 to around $1000.

  15. Filling fell out yesterday....I have no pain, and x-rays showed hole is close to nerves? I have two options. Get the hole filled by the local dentist whose reputation I do not know...or wait 2-3 weeks to be seen by a top notch Dental School. Can I afford to wait? Thank you for your help!

  16. I've had a filling for a little over a year I've noticed that the gum area around the tooth is sensative and have been practicing really good oral hygiene to clear it up. Well when I was flossing I noticed I could see the filling (it is on the inside of the tooth, almost inbetween) and I began picking at it. Well tonight it fell out. Im not in pain but my dentist is closed until monday. Will I be ok? Is there anything I can do to help the situation. Im worried it could get infected.

  17. Hello :D
    Three weeks ago I had one of my upper right teeth filled permanently, my dentist said that the cavity is so deep so he filled it temporarily and left it for six weeks and asked me to come back to have root canal treatment if it started hurting, it didn't, not even once, so I had the permanent filling, for a week the tooth was bit sensitive so I avoided eating on it, last Friday I ate on it accidentally and it moved, yesterday it fell out completely, my next appointment is on next Thursday, I don't know why did it fall, was it my fault for eating on it? Was it the dentist's fault? Was it the cavity's fault? I'm nervous from meeting him again, since the reason I started my treatment plan with him was a filling fall out because of a floss :/

  18. I noticed that one of my back tooth which I had a filling done a few years ago. The filling has been slowly eroding. Away a few weeks ago it was just a tunny tunny bit had fallen out but now its a small hole it Dosent hurt at all when I eat should I get it fixed?

  19. Hi

    Yesterday I went in for a routine cleaning and the hygienist pulled out a filling I had put in 2 years ago. I have a total of three fillings in my mouth (two from 15 years ago and one from 2 years ago). The most current one is the filling that was pulled out. It is a filling on the top back molars- it is located between two teeth. I had issues with it to begin with- it was getting snagged on my floss, but thought the dentist fixed the issue. Well, after the filling was pulled out they started to numb me for a new filling and then the assistant came in to show me a bill since my insurance only covers 60% of the charges. While the dentist was working on it, he made a comment along the lines of, "I think I put too much in last time". I wasn't sure what he meant by this but I think he meant the original filling from 2 years ago, which would make it his fault for doing the filling incorrectly. I was a little confused when I was given a bill since I felt like it was the hygienists and dentists fault that it came out to begin with. Is this normal? Should I have been charged for this? Should I begin to look for a new dentist? Please let me know... Thanks!

  20. hi i just had a filling fall out can filling be black ?

  21. My question is: How do dentists sleep at night? There are so many lies in the dental industry I just don;t understand how a good person could live with himself.

    • Just wanted to say that what you said is sooo true. Nothing but lies, excuses, greed and doing unnecessary work to increase profits. Every dental problem I have had is due to some previous work that was done. And every dentist you go to tells you something different. Just a terrible profession and the people that it attracts.

  22. 10 years ago a filling came out of my back tooth while biking. I never got it fixed and have had a hole there in the side since. Now the hole is black and I'm beginning to notice some sensitivity. Options? Expectations?

    Thanks.

  23. I haven't been taking care of my teeth very well and 4 days ago a filling that was in one of my molars fell out as I was eating a chewy piece of candy. The tooth only hurts slightly. Is this an 'emergency'?

  24. My son only had a filling for 3 weeks when I noticed it fell out.All I see is the hole where the dentist drilled and I am completely upset. It is white and I am doing everything I can until I can get to a new dentist. Our old one is rude careless and completely irresponsible.By chance its December 29 and many dentists don't work until jan 6 . I wish I never let this guy touch my child, he didn't even use pain meds before drilling. No the way anyone wants to start their year.

  25. I got a root canal in 1976. The filling in this tooth fell out a couple of months ago. I had to wait about one
    week due to the holidays to get into the dentist. During this time the gum, in the hole, got sore and irritated. The filling was replaced and I have been having trouble ever since. I have pain when I chew, burning, throbbing, and the gum is very sore when I floss. I went back to the dentist. He ground off some
    of the filling as he said it might be a little high, and my bite may be off. I rubbed the black paper around
    in my mouth. Still having problems. What do you think?

  26. On my last tooth a piece of filling came out on the end some of the filling is still on there so will the whole filling need to be replaced or just some

  27. Hi! My husband does road construction so he is not available to go to the dentist on a whim, so he calls on rain days. Well, he had a filling fall out, he was having pain, but no longer is. And of course today it rained and our dentist is out of the office all week. Is it okay for him to wait another week or two.. when it rains again? ;)

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Tom, Creator of Oral AnswersHi, I'm Tom. I recently graduated from dental school and am now a dentist in Bridgewater, Virginia. I started this blog to help people take better care of their teeth. You can learn more about me or ask me a question.

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