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Has a piece of your tooth gone missing? You might be worried that you’ve chipped it—until you remember the cavity you had filled a few years ago. You probably haven’t lost a tooth, just a filling.

Fillings are a temporary fix for cavities. Most fillings last approximately 10 years. Even with the best care, fillings will eventually fall out. A few commons reasons why you might lose a filling include:

  • Tooth decay
  • The filling is old
  • You bit down on something hard

If the filling is dislodged shortly after it had been placed, it indicates that the material didn’t bond properly to the tooth. But if it falls out many years later, then it’s more likely due to decay or chewing something too tough.

Here’s what you should do if you lose a filling:

First Steps

Is the affected area bleeding? Try applying gauze to slow the blood and help form a clot. We recommend seeking emergency dental treatment immediately if the bleeding continues.

If possible, collect the filling material and place it in a sealed plastic bag. Your dentist may be able to reuse the material, especially if it’s made with silver or gold alloy.

Keep The Area Clean

Without a filling, your tooth will be especially vulnerable to bacteria. The loss of material will leave an open hole in your tooth where food debris can easily become lodged. 

You can try brushing the tooth, but hold off if that causes too much pain. To remove bacteria and prevent infections, try gently rinsing your mouth with saltwater.

Until the tooth is fixed, try to stay away from harmful things like acidic drinks or sugary foods. Your tooth has a higher risk of breaking or getting infected when the cavity is exposed.

Alleviate Pain

Perhaps, whenever you breathe in or bite down, you notice a sharp pain near your tooth. What can you do to reduce pain while you wait for dental treatment?

You may feel a heightened sensitivity where the filling used to be. Try to chew on the opposite side of your mouth, and avoid consuming hot or cold foods. 

Next, try taking over-the-counter pain medication, such as ibuprofen. This can reduce inflammation and offer some pain relief. If you have any clove oil or another anaesthetic, apply it directly to the affected area. 

To bring down swelling, you can apply a cold compress to your outer cheek. The cold will help numb the nerves in your mouth.

Make Your Fillings Last Longer

If you want to avoid losing your fillings, take note of these care tips:

Don’t chew hard foods

Many people like to chew the ice in their drinks, but that can cause significant damage to your teeth (and fillings). Other foods to avoid include hard candies, caramels, dehydrated fruits, and tough meats. 

Schedule regular dental cleanings

The signs of decay aren’t always obvious. Sometimes, only your dentist can identify when a cavity goes deeper than a filling. If decay reaches the roots and nerves, a root canal may be needed to save the tooth.

Losing a filling may cause severe pain. You can’t always wait until regular office hours to see a dentist—you need treatment ASAP.

If you need a 24 hour dentist in Edmonton, we can help. We’re available to treat a range of dental emergencies, from toothaches to knocked-out teeth. Contact us today to schedule emergency dental treatment.