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Lost Filling

Filling Fell Out of Front Tooth

I 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?”

Lost Filling from ToothBefore 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.


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!

How to Make a Dental First Aid Kit

An Oral Answers reader, Rebecca recently asked the following question:

“In the wake of the earthquake in Japan, my friends and I have been checking/building our disaster kits. One thing that’s come up has been what should be packed in a dental first aid kit. None of our first aid kits contain dental first aid items so we thought we’d build our own. What would you suggest that we add for a family of four? We’re assuming that a toothbrush, toothpaste and floss is only the beginning.”

Dental First Aid KitRebecca brings up a good point about the importance of being prepared for dental emergencies when they occur.  We never know when one of our children might lose a tooth in an accident.

If you’re interested in making your own dental first aid kit, there are many items that you may choose to include, depending on your level of dental experience.  Also, you need to know if you want to pack regular oral hygiene items (such as toothpaste and floss) in with your main disaster kit, or if you want to include it in your dental first aid kit.

For the purposes of this article, I will simply go into the things that you may want to have on hand in case a dental emergency occurs and you are unable to make it to the dentist for whatever reason.

What to Put in a Dental First Aid Kit: A List of 14 Possible Dental First Aid Kit Items

You can use the list below to find some things that you may want to include in a dental first aid kit, broken up into a few categories.

Help with Examining the Dental Emergency

1 – Medical-Grade Exam Gloves – Even if you’re comfortable reaching into your child’s mouth without gloves, it may be a good idea to wear gloves anyway due to the germs that you have on your hands.

2 – Dental Mirror & Flashlight – If a piece of tooth chipped off, or if someone has lost a tooth, it’s a good idea to look inside of the mouth and see if there is anything remaining at the site of the accident.  A mirror can also help you visualize the tongue-side of the front teeth.

Saving a Knocked Out or Lost Tooth

Save a Tooth System

3 – Save-a-Tooth System – The Save-A-Tooth System is simply a saline solution that is compatible with our bodily fluids.  It is the best way to keep a tooth “alive” when it is knocked out and not immediately re-implanted.  It is important to remember that a tooth can only be outside of its socket for a few hours before the probability of successful re-implantion starts to go down-hill fast!


In short, you only need to get this if you’ll be able to make it to the dentist within a few hours of having a tooth accidentally knocked out so that the dentist can re-implant the tooth.

Helping with a Lost Crown, Lost Filling, or Chipped Tooth

4- Temporary Crown and Filling Material – These materials, which I talked about in a previous post about the best temporary crown cement can help you get by until you can see a dentist.  Note that it is always best to see a dentist first when a crown or filling falls out.

To learn more on this topic, read about what to do when a filling comes out and what to do when a crown falls off.

5 – Dental Wax – Wax can be used to help with irritation from braces or a chipped tooth.  Some people have also used it to temporarily fill in a lost filling.  Dental wax can be found for pretty cheap on Amazon.

6 – Toothbrush & Tweezers – When putting a loose crown back on and replacing a lost filling, it is important to make sure that the tooth is clean by using a toothbrush.  You’ll also need a good way to handle the filling material, which is where the tweezers come in.

Controlling Bleeding

7 – Sterile Gauze – Gauze placed over the site of bleeding can help stop bleeding. You can also use gauze to move the tongue (it’s usually pretty slippery with gloves on!) so that you can see what’s going on inside the mouth.

8 – Tea Bag – If bleeding hasn’t stopped with just gauze, it can sometimes help to place a wet tea bag inside of a piece of gauze and hold that over the wound to stop bleeding.

9 – Hydrogen Peroxide – If you need to disinfect and clean up blood, hydrogen peroxide good to have around in your dental first aid kit.

Alleviating Dental Pain

10 – Floss, Toothpicks – Sometimes tooth pain is simply caused by food that is stuck between teeth that can easily be removed with floss and/or toothpicks.

11 – Clove Oil – Clove oil (or eugenol in dental-speak) has a sedative effect on the dental pulp and can be used to help alleviate tooth pain.  Many dentists use eugenol in their offices to help calm down teeth after deep fillings.  This is why clove oil is commonly associated with the dental office smell.

If you’re looking for a quick way to get some clove oil into your dental first aid kit, it can be found along with sesame oil in these Red Cross Toothache Medication Drops over at Amazon.

12 – Ice Pack – An ice pack can help reduce swelling when a tooth is lost.  At my dental school, whenever we extract a tooth, we recommend that the patient place an ice pack on their face intermittently (20 minutes on, then 20 minutes off) to reduce swelling.

13 – Orajel or Anbesol – Sometimes Orajel or Anbesol can do a better job at relieving oral pain than clove oil.  When giving an oral anesthetic to your children, it’s important to be aware of methemoglobinemia, a serious side effect.

14 – Pain Medication – Over the counter pain medication, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen can help relieve oral pain, but should only be taken as directed.

Where to Buy a Dental First Aid Kit

Some people don’t want to go through the hassle of making their own dental first aid kit and prefer a ready-made solution.  There are a variety of different dental first aid kits available for sale online.  Here are two from Amazon that grabbed some good customer reviews:

Dental First Aid Kit - Dental MedicDental Medic Dental First Aid Kit (Pictured to the left) – This kit includes dental wax, floss, a tea bag, and an oral pain reliever among other items.  It also has an instruction booklet for dealing with common dental emergencies and comes in a waterproof bag.

Emergency Dental Kit (Pictured below) – This dental first aid kit appears to include a few more things compared to the dental first aid kit above.  It includes a mirror and appears to also have a Dental First Aid Kit Emergency Kitcontainer of clove oil included.

If you’re looking for some other options, this Google Shopping results page and this page at Amazon both show many other dental first aid kits that are available.


Dental first aid kits can be valuable assets when it comes to your oral health and your children’s oral health.  Nobody knows when an emergency will occur, so it is always a good idea to be prepared to handle dental emergencies.

Do you have any questions or comments about dental first aid kits?  I’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments section below.  Thanks for reading!

Lost Filling from Tooth
©Sebastian Kaulitzki/

Earlier this week, I wrote about what you should do when a crown falls off.  Today, I will discuss what you should do when you lose a filling.

An Amalgam aka Silver FillingLosing a filling from your tooth can be quite a traumatic event, especially if it comes out while you’re eating and you accidentally bite down on it.

However, there’s really no need to worry when a filling comes out of your tooth because your dentist will be able to fix it.

Also, there’s no need to save the filling if it was a composite, amalgam, or glass ionomer filling (the majority of fillings.)

If it was a gold or ceramic inlay filling (rather uncommon) then you may want to save it if you can find it since your dentist may be able to cement it back into place.

What to Do When a Filling Comes Out of Your Tooth

The first thing that you should do is remove it from your mouth so that you don’t accidentally swallow it or breathe it in.  A majority of the time when you swallow a filling, it simply passes without a problem.  On the contrary, if you accidentally breathe a filling into your lungs, it could cause an infection.