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What to Do When You Lose a Filling from Your Tooth

An Amalgam aka Silver FillingEarlier 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.

Losing 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.

Next, you should call your dentist and schedule an appointment to have your dentist replace the filling.  If the filling was recently placed, and it came out during the course of normal chewing, then your dentist may replace it for free or at a reduced rate.  It is important to communicate what you want to your dentist -- if the filing was improperly bonded to the tooth, then the dentist is at fault and should probably replace it free of charge.

Before you get to your dentist, it is important to practice impeccable oral hygiene around the area where the filling used to be.  An unfilled tooth is a good trap for food which can cause harmful bacteria to accumulate.  Be sure to brush gently and carefully inside the hole where the filling was to ensure removal of all food debris.

It is also a good idea to rinse your mouth out with warm saltwater after eating.  An effective rinse can be made by combining one cup of warm water and one teaspoon of salt.

What To Do If Your Tooth Is Sensitive After Losing a Filling

If your tooth is sensitive after losing your filling, then it is likely that there are exposed dentin tubules.  Dentin tubules are tiny pathways of communication between the dentin and the pulp of your tooth.  The dentin tubules are essentially providing a direct pathway from the inside of your mouth to the pulp in your tooth.

Since the only sensation that the nerves in the pulp can send to your brain is pain, the tooth feels sensitive to hot and cold and can be quite painful.

To alleviate this pain, over-the-counter pain medications such as aspirin, Tylenol, and Advil can help.  A better solution would be to stop the source of the pain.  Since the pain is caused by the exposed dentin tubules, you can try to cover those.

You can cover the dentin tubules by putting a temporary filling material inside the hole in your tooth to replace that lost filling.  I have heard that sugar-free gum or a thick wax will work if you are in a bind.  A better material to fill your tooth is a commercial temporary filling material with zinc-oxide, which can be found at many pharmacies.

Commercial Temporary Dental Filling Materials

There are a few different brands of temporary dental filling materials on the market such as  Dentemp, Temparin and Cherry-flavored Refilit.  You can click on the links to learn more about them, but it's probably best to get them from your local drugstore rather than online if you've already lost your filling. If you're planning ahead and trying to make a dental first aid kit, then it may be a cheaper option to buy online.

These are all different brands of pretty much the same thing.  It is a zinc-oxide filling material that you simply push into the hole using a wet finger.  After a few minutes, your saliva will cause the temporary filling to harden.

It is important to remember that these temporary filling materials are only meant to last for a few days, although some reviewers online have had theirs last for a couple of weeks. Make sure you get an appointment to see your dentist as soon as possible.

Conclusion

When you lose a filling, make sure you take care of the tooth and call your dentist. If it hurts, you can take some pain medicine, but you should probably go get some temporary filling material to fill the tooth until you can see your dentist.


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54 Comments |  Leave A Comment

  1. what if you cant get ahold of your dentist until Monday and it's Friday?

    • Hi Logan - I would personally run to the pharmacy and pick up some temporary filling material and put that in until Monday.

      You could also call your dentist's office. Usually, they have a number for emergencies. But, in this case, I would suspect that your dentist would just have you come in on Monday since this isn't an extreme emergency. I hope that helps. Thanks for your comment. Try to have a great weekend in spite of the lost filling!

      • Thank you! I was looking for a response to this exact question! Thank you for your very informational article! I appreciate it! And so does my tooth! :)

      • Filling came out of 2 mollers and there Is now a deep hole pain kills hurts When eat, drink or Bryan it and Is very sensirive, what should i do

    • hey I am a kid so I don't understand this stuff but it is 10;22 pm here and I should be in bed. anyways, my filling for a cavity just fell out and I cant tell anyone because im supposed to be in bed. idk what to do because there is a tooth right next to it that is loose. I wasn't eating or anything but I was playing with my loose tooth and the filling fell out of the one to the left of it. I immediately took the filling out , it fell in 2 bits of piees abd a piece of the tooth came out too, and put everything in a bag. there is a dentist coming to my school soon and is doing the stuff for a cealance. but for the rest of the night what should I do???????

      • luckily its not hurting when I bite down and the nerve don't seem to be hurting it either. but im wondering if I can swallow without blood flooding into my mouth. it hasn't bled so
        far but I am seriously worried. plz contact me as soon as possibal logan.

      • Hey Rex, it would be good to get in to see a dentist as soon as possible to help you figure out what can be done for your tooth. Even when you're not in pain, things can slowly happen that could be painful in the future. Good luck!

        • thx tom. I should be going to a doctor this Thursday. I told my school doctor and she looked at my tooth. she said that the filling fell out because the tooth is a baby tooth, and there is my grown tooth growing right behind it, but because of my three big crooked front teeth, the baby tooth is stuck, and wont move. the one to the right of it is very loose but my permanent tooth is growing down, this is all on the top right row of my teeth, and bacteria can get up into the small crack, making the new tooth able to come in with a cavity. My school dentist also said that If I brush my tooth then it might bleed because the nerves around it are starting to get irritated. So I am seeing a real dentist this Thursday and hopefully nothing will happen till I get there.

  2. Hi Tom. I've really enjoyed reading your blog. I have a quick question for you, is it urgent to fill a cracked filling? I have a cracked composite filling on one of my back molars, but my dentist wants me to wait to re-fill it after I get retainers (I broke my orthodontic retainers 2 months ago and since then my bite has been off). I can understand why he wants me to stabilize my bite before I get the work done, but I was wondering if waiting 2-3 weeks to re-fill the tooth poses any dangers. Since my bite is off I'm having a hard time telling whether the discomfort I have (minor) is from my bite or the cracked filling. Also, how would you advise I "take care" of my cracked filling in the meantime to make sure it doesn't get infected. Thanks so much!

    • Hi Lisha - When your filling is cracked, it leaves a small opening that is impossible for you to keep clean. Since your toothbrush can't reach down inside of the cracked filling, your best bet for taking care of it would be to cut down on the amount of sugar that you eat and consider using a fluoride mouth rinse.

      We have new patients that come into the dental school that need lots of fillings. In some cases, it can take us months to finally get all of the fillings completed. As long as you haven't developed a large cavity under the cracked filling, I would assume that there isn't a problem with waiting a few weeks, especially since that is what your dentist recommends.

      One thing to consider is that if you have the clear plastic retainers that fit over your teeth, make sure that it still fits perfectly over your back molar after your dentist replaces the old filling (as the retainer would have been built to conform to the tooth with the old filling.)

      I hope that helps, Lisha - Let me know if you have any other questions.

  3. Hi Tom, thanks so much for the quick reply. I'll go and pick up some fluoride rinse today. I'll also remember to bring my new retainer to my filling appointment to make sure that it fits properly. With regards to the broken filling, if I'm unable to brush my teeth after a meal, is it a good idea to chew sugarless gum? I was wondering if it would be more helpful or harmful. Please let me know what you think. Thanks!

    • Hi Lisha - Usually chewing sugarless gum helps your teeth because it helps you produce more saliva which helps your teeth.

      In your case, I'm not sure exactly what condition the broken filling is in, so it may be safer not to chew, but I can't give you a good answer one way or the other. Since your dentist wants to wait to replace the filling, my guess is that you don't need to worry too much. If it was a really big filling, your dentist probably would've let you know.

      I hope that helps, Lisha. Thanks for your comments!

  4. Just had a exam and the dentist noticed a filling fell out in the last tooth on the bottom(All my wisdom are pulled).
    Said I should get it re-filled within 6 months and shouldn't be a problem if I keep it clean.
    Didn't even notice and there is no pain.
    Is this too long of a time to wait? Reason for 6 months is I have a job overseas and wanted to to it in either Guam or USA instead of Asia.

    • Hi Randy - Your dentist knows it it's alright or not. It sounds like it was probably a shallow filling and you'll be fine if you keep it clean. With the small hole in your tooth, just make sure you're able to see back there well enough to keep it clean, or you could have another cavity on your hands when you go to have it re-filled.

      I hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions, Randy.

  5. if itz not sensitibe but hurts alot u need to do to the dentist i had it befor they just pull it out it never hurtz swear when they num it.when they take it out u will feel like someone is pushing u thatz all then get gawz and stuff simple as it can be

  6. hi im just saying 2 mins ago i just relised that i have cracked my tooth right at the back and i can start to feel the nerves irratate it and my dentist is not at work today so i have to go through pain all day ouch!! so not all dentists are helpfull

  7. Hi Tom,
    I just came across this site because I lost a filling about 2 weeks ago but I don't have dental insurance or the cash on hand right now to fill it with a dentist. What do you suggest I do? Thanks for your help!

  8. I was picking out potato chips from my teeth bc I was too lazy to get up to brush. Well I broke my filling with my fingernail thinking it was a potato chip. The next day- My tooth is tender and is giving me a pounding headache. The filling feels loose and is still in the tooth. My tooth feels stable and the filling is intact but still gives me a pounding headache in the front of my head. I'm a young disabled adult and I don't have a dentist or Dental insurance. Only medial. Do you have any ideas to help my situation?

    • Hi Chris - With the headache, there is a good chance that there is bacteria that has gotten into the nerve of the tooth and it would either need to come out or have a root canal done. I don't know of any remedies other than getting either of these two procedures completed. I hope that helps!

  9. I also have thrush, for two years. Any cures u know of? Negative HIV

    • Tom, please help. I have thrush for two years. HIV- and no diabetes. However,I can't rid my case of thrush. I've now noticed a odor where the filling came out of my tooth from eating pita chips. I'm also still waiting to hear from you about what to do about my tooth that has a odor and a loose filling. It was causing headaches but now my gums feel tender and the tooth smells stinky. I don't have dental insurance and Im disabled. However I'm still alive and would like somebody to address my situation. Ive tried nystatin, garlic, rinsing hydrogen peroxide straight from bottle, ect nothing seems to rid the trush which is causing my bad teeth. I've lowered the sugar intake, no white rice, and eating plain yogurt. Going back for blood work next week and to take a culture of this oral candida. It's funny how when you ask for help, everybody runs the other way or ignore it- I've been addressing this now for two years. I'm worried this will affect my health as I'm already disabled from a accident.

      • Hi Chris - If your fillings are loose or falling out and causing an odor, it sounds like there is decay in these affected teeth. Have you tried a dental clinic? Does your state provide any dental coverage for those who are disabled? If you make some calls, I believe you should be able to find somewhere near that can fix your teeth for you. Since your mouth is connected to your body, bacteria build-up as well as cavities can affect your overall health.

        I hope you are able to find a place to get your needed work done. Have a great day!

  10. Hi, I recently went to the dentist about one of my back teeth cracking on the side because it was causing an odd taste in my mouth. When I got there it turns out that the tooth had decay under the filling. The dentist said that it was almost decayed to the nerve and he was surprised that I didn't punch him in the face from pain but I didn't have any, just some tenderness when I flossed between that tooth and the one behind it. Anyway he told me I'd have to get it pulled but my question is why can't he just refill it? I don't really wanna lose ANOTHER back tooth (getting low now). I'm trying to have better habits but things just aren't looking up yet. The filling has fallen out now so what would you advise since its "so close to the nerve where the two nerves meet"? Let him pull it request a filling? Thanks!

    • Hi Shavonta - If there is decay near the bone level, it may not be possible to put a filling in without doing surgery to remove some bone. Also, with the decay so close to the nerve, there is a good chance that you may need a root canal. If you are uncomfortable with the dentist's recommendation and feel like he didn't explain it to you well, I would go get a second opinion.

      Many dental offices will do free second opinions, you just have to call them and ask. Good luck!

  11. Tom, I appreciate you for giving helping me. Not only did you answer my questions, You gave me the knowledge I needed to make proper steps in order to fixing my teeth. My two questions left is, thrush developed bc of my poor mouth condition? Since I don't have HIV or cancer. Blood work shows I'm not diabetic also. What Medicine would you personally recommend nystatin or diflucan? And with my case of thrush being for two years constant. It would take multiple treatment/rounds of nystatin or diflucan!? That may take ten to fifteen weeks to clear. My question is: do I first treat this thrush, or start working-- repair on my teeth with the thrush infection present? And did thrush occur from my poor teeth problem? Tom, I really appreciate you man. I hope your truly blessed bc you deserve to be. Tom helped me when everybody else turned away. I will always remember that. Man, thank you.!

  12. Hi Tom,
    I just had several cavities filled in august, and they were a little sensitive at first but they seemed almost completely better until about a week ago. One of my teeth is EXTREMELY sensitive (I can't even drink room temperature water without pain, so I've been drinking out of a straw). Literally anything that is colder than body temperature sets it off. Heat isn't really as big of a problem unless its something REALLY hot. The pain doesn't linger and goes away almost immediately.I chewed on some ice that night, but I don't remember any pain then, only later that night. I'm away at college and am not able to see my dentist right now, but I am scheduled for a cleaning next time I go home (about a month from now). The tooth is on the top in the back so it's pretty much impossible for me to get a good look at it, but it doesn't look or feel like there is a hole, as far as I can tell. What do you think this is and is there anything I can do to relieve the pain until I can see the dentist? Thanks!

  13. hello! i recently got a filling done on one of my back molars about a month ago and a crown put in on the molar next to it. i've been experiencing pain on the tooth that got the filling. and it seems as if it wasn't properly done OR they didn't fill it all the way (if that makes sense or if it's possible). because the pain is kind of between the molar with the filling and the one with the crown, but more so on the one with the filling. there's like a tiny part where the filling isn't covering the tooth and that's where i feel the pain. i have to chew food on the opposite side to avoid the pain. how will i know if the dentist is at fault? i doubt they would just blatantly fess up. i've been taking motrin for the past wk and the pain goes away but comes back when it's time to take another dose of motrin. please help. thank u in advance!

    • Hi Gracie - You can go back to your dentist and see, but if you feel like you don't have the most trusting relationship, then your best bet would probably be to get a second opinion from another dentist. You could just say that you have pain on those teeth, they will probably take a couple of x-rays and let you know what's going on. I hope that helps. Have a great day!

  14. Hello, Tom.
    Last night, I was sleeping and when I woke up, the little gray feeling was gone, I must have swallowed it in my sleep, I don't know. I'm worried it might hurt me or something, and it doesn't hurt or anything, but its my last loose tooth as well, and its cracked in half and i'm going to get it pulled out very soon, can you help me? :(

  15. Hi Tom, I hope you can help me :( My name is Alicia. A few weeks ago a filling fell out of my upper back right molar...it is on the outside on my gum line which its kind of big. I was sick for almost a week an a half with a bad cold, so I wasnt able to get it fixed at the time. I woke up this morning feeling much better from my cold, but had the worse headache and everytime i took a step i could feel my tooth hurting.. I did get ahold of a dentist and have an appt on monday, but in the meantime im still hurting.. so i went to CVS and picked up dentemp a temporary filling and put that on there... is that bad?? should i have not done that? I read to do that, but once i started doing more reading its saying when a nerve is exposed not to do it or if it throbs.. it doesnt really throb i just have a bad headache..do you think i will be fine until monday?? im worried now :(

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  17. Hi Tom,

    I currently dont have dental insurance and my filling fell off a couple of weeks ago. Crazy pain up to my head sometimes. Do you think an over the counter filling can help me for a while? Thanks a bunch!

  18. Hi Tom! How are you? The temporary filling came out one of my back upper teeth. A root canal has been done on it, so even tho the filling is gone, it does not hurt at all. I don't know what whether to leave it alone since it's not bothering me, or to cover it somehow with something. I am unable to get an official cap/crown at this moment in time. Thank you Tom!

    Sincerely,
    Nancy

    • Hi Nancy - Even though it's not hurting, it is very important to get something in the tooth so as to ensure that none of the bacteria in your mouth leak into the root canal area and cause an infection. It would be good to get in touch with your dentist today (most offices have someone on call on holidays) or tomorrow to get the filling replaced. Depending on how long you plan on waiting to get the crown, you might consider a more permanent filling.

      I hope that helps - Thanks for your comment, Nancy!

  19. Hi Tom
    I had a deep filling over twenty years ago, now the tooth around has fell apart, and the filling it's self has become loose. It is causing really bad headachs after eating, as I can't afford a trip to the dentist at the mowment, would it cause any damage if i just removed the filling myself?
    Dave

  20. A filling came out while I was eating granola (see, that's what health food does to you!) I must have swallowed it (ick) and only noticed it later. It did not hurt at all. A few days later, I went to the dentist and he re-filled it suggesting that because it was a very large filling, I should consider a crown. The odd thing is, the tooth did not hurt at all before he replaced the filling, but now it hurts constantly. Why the heck would that be, do you think?

  21. Hello,,
    So the last time i went to da dentist wich was about 4 yrs ago,, i got fillings in my back molars,, n just today i flossed,, which its sumthing i never do,, n a piece of filling came out,, that tooth had been bugging me for a while n not that long ago dentist told me i had to have a root canal done on that tooth. Im worried about it,, and i would like to know what i can do=(???

  22. Hi, my filling just fell out and the next appointment i can get is on Tuesday and its Friday. But the problem is my tooth is really sharp and there's barely any tooth left. HELP ME!!!

  23. Hi Tom

    Some of my fillings has come off. I am thinking of doing the filling myself as I do not want anymore drilling in my tooth. Do I need to do a professional cleaning like the doctors do before I can fill it in myself. If I do need to do then please let me know how that is meant to be done.
    Many thanks
    Ateka

  24. Hi Tom ,
    I am doing a root canel. My filing fell and my next appointment is on the 27 th of this month .Plus tomorrow is a Friday and no dental clinic is open . And I could not get any temporary filling from a pharmacy . What should i do ?
    Thankyou

  25. I have a large filling in one of my molars that has fallen out. It has fallen out and been replaced 3 times in the last 5 years as it's so big. I would prefer to have the tooth extracted so eliminate the problem as it is very costly, but my dentist thinks this is crazy as the root is healthy. She also wants to do a composite filling this time, I had amalgam in previously. What is my best option in your opinion? Thanks

  26. my back hurts so much - i started using a brace its not so bad now

  27. Thanks a lot. Very helpful information.

  28. Hi. Tom. My filling came out my tooth still there. I have very bad pain its starting to smell nasty. I have noticed my gum is filling in the hole. I barely see any tooth left. What can i have done. Im afraid of going to the dentist. When i was 3 months pregnant the dentist decided to do a filling and the anestesia didnt work i felt everyrhing. Since then i barely go to thw dentist. Im 25 and still afraid. Can i get work done while im a sleep.

  29. Hi tom, I am from the uk and on business in India for the next week and then two in the states. Today a filling in my front tooth came out. Will it wait until I get back to the uk in three weeks time or do I need to sort it out before then? It is not painful at the moment just a bit sharp!!! Thanks..

  30. What happens if you don't repair a cracked filling for 2 years and the cavity becomes bigger?

  31. Hi Tom,

    I have just had a filling fall out unfortunately it makes up most of my tooth down to the gum, I have one side left. I'm worried about touching it or trying to stick the filling back on, it looks decayed where the fillings come away and I don't know whether to try to clean it or just leave it alone. I haven't drank anything or eaten and have taken Pain relief . It's Friday night so no dentist till Monday, any advice would be great.

  32. thanks, straight to the point advice. As the post above, my filling just fell. Friday evening...

  33. Hey Guys,

    I'm out of the country right now and will be for another month and a week. I just had part of a filling fall out of my mouth. It feels like I have a decently sized whole in my tooth. Is this the kind of thing that can wait until I get back home or should I try to take care of it abroad?

    Thanks!

  34. Hi tom
    My filling fell out yesterday not all of it but most of it has come out and food is getting stuck in the hole where the temporary filling should be I have just finished having root canal done should I go back my dentist to have the filling put back or just leave it till I go a week on Friday.
    Thanks

  35. Hello,
    I am having a mould taken for a dental inlay in 2 days but i currently have oral thrush (from taking antibiotics to deal with a wisdom tooth infection) will the dentist still be able to perform the procedure?
    Thanks

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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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