What do you do if a filling falls out of your tooth?

what to do if you have just lost your filling

It’s not every day that you lose a dental filling and quite frankly it’s not something people would be researching in advance just in case it was to happen. But alas, the fateful day has arrived and you now find yourself searching for an answer either because you’ve lost a filling or a family member has lost one.

Before you start panicking and thinking of the worst, let me just say that everything is going to be alright. I’m going to explain everything you need to know and what to do if your dental filling falls out.

Dental fillings don’t last forever

You might be wondering why did my filling fall out? There are a number of reasons why your dental filling has come loose or dislodged, and this includes not maintaining your daily oral care routine. If you’re guilty of letting a few days slide here and there, only flossing a few times a week, any tooth can start to develop dental decay (caries) which weakens the tooth or the filling.

Other reasons include:

If your filling comes loose or falls out, it’s important that you book in an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible to get it replaced.

5 Steps on what do I do if my dental filling falls out?

If your filling has fallen out, here’s 5 steps on what to do next.

  1. Book an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible for a new filling. Let them know what’s happened and if you’re currently in pain. Make sure to ask for suggestions on how to protect your exposed tooth from any further damage if they are unable to see you right away.
  2. Gargle salt water to keep the area clean. Mix ½ teaspoon of salt into a cup of warm water and give it a stir. Gargling salt water will help kill any harmful bacteria and remove any food debris that could potentially damage the tooth.
  3. Maintain your daily oral care. This goes without saying, make sure to brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day. Pay extra attention to the area where the filling came out and brush gently.
  4. Avoid biting or chewing on the exposed tooth.
  5. Consider using a temporary filling material. Available at most local pharmacies, however make sure to consult with your dentist first. Remember, this is only a temporary solution until you are able to see your dentist.

Is a filling falling out a dental emergency?

To a certain degree, it’s a dental emergency, but at the same time it’s not. For the most part, if you simply follow the 5 steps mentioned above you’re going to be alright, so there’s no need to panic!

Make a few minor adjustments to your diet to include softer foods and avoid sugary things like soft drinks and candy, as they will only speed up tooth decay.

Can I eat if my filling falls out?

In short, yes you are perfectly OK to eat food providing you avoid any sugary drinks and food, and stay away from hard and crunchy items.

Avoid chewing on the exposed tooth, as this may cause further damage. As usual, make sure you’re brushing and flossing your teeth twice a day.

What should you do if you’re in pain?

If you’re unable to see your dentist for a few days and you’re in pain, here are some temporary options of relief:

  • Consider over-the-counter, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen to help reduce pain and swelling.
  • You may also consider over-the-counter pain relief medication such as panadol to help reduce the pain.
  • Alternatively, you can apply clove oil to the exposed tooth and gum to help relieve pain, which can be purchased at any health food store or pharmacy.
  • Applying a cold compress or ice pack for 15minutes is always an effective method of relieving pain and swelling.

What happens if I ignore a loose filling?

Ignoring to replace a loose filling can result in further damage to the unprotected tooth. Not doing anything at all — none of the 5 steps mentioned above — allows bacteria and food particles into the space, causing tooth decay.

If exposed long enough, bacteria can make its way beneath the outer enamel and into the dentin. Exposed dentin can become very sensitive, and with further decay and damage to the exposed tooth, may require more extensive dental treatments. This includes a root canal, dental crown, or a tooth extraction.

What happens if you swallow a tooth filling?

If you managed to swallow your dental filling, don’t be alarmed as it should pass safely through your body. What’s more concerning is either breathing it in or inhaling it, as a loose filling can get lodged in the lungs and cause irritation, and potentially an infection.

We strongly recommend seeking medical attention as soon as possible.

How can you prevent a filling from coming loose?

When it comes to preventing a filling from falling out, there are no tricks. The key is to simply practice good oral hygiene and regular dental checkups. Here are some pointers to help prevent a filling from coming loose:

  • Brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day
  • See your dentist for regular checkups, scale and cleans
  • Brush or use a tongue scraper to remove any bacteria and freshen your breath
  • Make sure to use the right toothbrush and replace it every 3 to 4 months

Visiting your dentist at least every 6 months can help spot any potential problems with a filling or any other dental issues early before they become a serious problem. They will be able to advise if your filling is worn out and needs replacing before it falls out. When was the last time you saw your dentist?

About The Author

Dr Saurabh Rai

Dr Saurabh Rai took ownership of our Gosnells clinic in 2016. He completed his Bachelor of Dental Science in 2004 in Bangalore, India, followed by his Master of Science in Forensic Science from the University of Western Australia. During this time, he also completed his Australian Dental Council licensing exams from the University of South Australia in Adelaide.

More about Dr Saurabh Rai

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