What to Do When You Lose a Filling from Your Tooth
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.
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.
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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