Dental fillings are some of the most popular methods of dental restoration available. When you have a cavity, you get a filling. However, this depends on the extent of the problem that needs resolving.
Nevertheless, there are different types of dental fillings with varied benefits and lifespans. Like many other types of dental restorations, tooth fillings do not always last a lifetime. They may become loose or fall out at some point. If this happens to you, do not worry, as it is normal.
This post takes you through all you need to know in case your tooth filling falls out.
What Makes Tooth Fillings Fall Out?
Depending on the materials used and the extent of the issue, dental fillings need to be replaced every 5 to 30 years. But can tooth fillings fall out prematurely? The answer is yes, and here are some reasons why your tooth filling fell out:
- A new cavity under or around the filling: If you eat a lot of acidic or sugary foods, the seal between the tooth and the filling may break down. If this happens, it may result in tooth decay, causing the existing filling to fall out.
- Trauma: Trauma to the affected tooth may lead to fillings falling out. Accidents and injuries loosen the fillings making them fall out.
- Excessive teeth grinding: Bruxism, also known as teeth grinding, is the habit of clenching and ‘grinding’ your teeth. This mostly affects people in their sleep. Bruxism may affect dental fillings, weakening and making them loose, hence easier to fall out. Dental professionals recommend using NTI Night Guards for teeth grinding to prevent the impacts of bruxism.
- Regular consumption of hard or sticky foods: Sticky, crunchy, and hard foods may loosen dental restorations, including fillings, if consumed over time. This is why consuming foods low in sugar and acidity is recommended, especially if you have dental restorations to protect their integrity.
- Chewing habits: At times, you may be ‘overusing’ your dental fillings, exerting too much pressure on them when chewing. This is especially the case if you like to chew too hard, eventually weakening the fillings and leading them to fall out.
How Do I Know If My Tooth Filling Fell Out?
It may feel obvious when a filling falls out. This is the case, especially if your front tooth filling fell out. However, there are some other instances when it may not be straightforward to determine if a filling fell out, especially if it was a small one or a wisdom tooth filling fell out. Here are the common signs that will guide you if a filling fell out:
If your tooth broke and the filling fell out, this next section guides you on what to do.
What To Do If a Tooth Filling Falls Out
If you have a tooth filling that fell out, you should not panic. Here are the steps that you should take when this happens:
The first thing you should do when your fillings fall out is to remove all loose particles from your mouth. Doing this ensures that you do not accidentally swallow any pieces of the filling.
It is important that you do not try to push the filling back into place, as this will not work. Moreover, do not try to remove any remaining parts of the filling forcefully. Only wipe out the loose bits and leave everything securely in place.
Once you have removed and secured the fallen tooth fillings, immediately contact your dentist and let them know that you have lost a tooth filling. If your tooth filling fell out and you are in pain, ensure to seek the services of an emergency dentist.
Book an appointment with them to get a replacement filling installed. If the dentist isn’t available to resolve your problem, you may ask for specific instructions on taking care of your exposed tooth.
Generally, you can wait up to three days before seeing the dentist. However, if they cannot slot you in within that timeframe, you can inquire if you can see a different dentist.
After notifying your dentist, the next step is to make a salt and warm water solution. Swish saltwater in your mouth for a few seconds, then spit it out. Do this a few times, as it helps to keep the area clean.
The solution kills oral micro-organisms, which may damage your exposed tooth. Doing so also works to remove any food remnants in your teeth.
After cleaning the affected area with saltwater, you can further protect the void by using dental wax to temporarily fill in the cavity. You can easily find these temporary fillings from your local drugstore or order them online.
You simply take a bit of the wax and gently push it into the space left by the filling. The wax helps to prevent food particles and other bacteria from entering the exposed tooth.
Avoid chewing food with the affected tooth, and try to chew only from the other side of your mouth. Your dentist may recommend that you only consume foods that do not require much pressure when chewing.
Losing a dental filling is mostly not considered a dental emergency. This means that even if you feel pain or swelling, you can use over-the-counter pain relievers to control it. If there’s no medicine close by, you can apply a cold compress to the affected areas for about ten minutes to help relieve the pain.
How Much Does It Cost To Replace Tooth Fillings That Fell Out?
If your dental fillings fell out, you may need to replace them. You may need to pay for a new one if your dentist cannot re-use and re-cement the fillings that fell out back into your tooth.
Your dental insurance may pay for your replacement tooth fillings, but it is important to inquire from them before setting the appointment with the dentist. Also, if the fillings are fairly new, your dentist may give you a discount on the new fillings.
Nevertheless, the only option you have if you have fillings that fell out and cannot be reused, is to buy new ones.
Here’s a summary of the average cost of dental fillings when you visit the dentist without insurance:
|Filling||Color||Lifetime (Years)||Cost (Per tooth)|
|Glass Ionomer fillings||Off-white||5||$90-$300|
|Silver amalgam fillings||Silver/ Gray||10-15||$50-$200|
How To Prevent Tooth Fillings From Falling Out
Prevention is always better than cure. Preventing your tooth fillings from falling out pretty much points towards a stricter oral hygiene regimen. Here are a few things that you can do to prevent dental fillings from falling out:
It is not a crisis or a dental emergency if a tooth filling falls out. Contact your dentist as soon as you lose a filling to schedule when to get a replacement.
Do not try to fix a tooth filling that fell out. Instead, contact your dentist immediately.
A temporary tooth filling can last from a week to eight weeks, depending on the brand and type used.
Dental fillings need to be replaced every five to ten years. However, this also depends on the material used, as some of them, such as gold, may take over 15 years before requiring a replacement.