Dental treatment for cavities consists of removing the decayed tooth and filling it with a suitable restorative cement to strengthen the tooth. While most fillings can last for a long time, it is almost impossible to say that a filling will last forever.
However, you can care for the filling and follow your dentist’s instructions to make sure it lasts for a long time. If the tooth filling comes out, visit your dentist.
A dentist can check the status of the tooth, assess the decay if any, and re-fill a suitable restorative material back into the cavity.
Caring for filled teeth
All your teeth need care, but once any tooth has already undergone some damage and been filled, there is some special care you need to give it.
- Avoid, or be careful when biting on hard and sticky food with a filled tooth. If your front tooth has a composite filling, remember front teeth aren’t for eating.
- Keep the area clean while brushing and flossing. However, that does not mean you must brush too hard over the filling. Abrasion will increase the risk of dislodgement.
- Visit your dentist regularly for check-ups and follow up visits. Timely intervention for any improper filling will save you the trouble of a more complex treatment in the future.
Why do fillings come out?
There are many interlinked causes which contribute to a dislodged filling. Sometimes it may be the food you eat, or faulty chewing and brushing, or even just accelerated decay in the tooth. (1)
- You may be biting on something hard, and that’s when you feel like your filling has given away.
- Similarly, if you chew on something excessively sticky like a caramel filled candy or chocolate, your filling or crown could come off.
- Rarely it so happens that a filled tooth may have some new decay or periodontal problem. The increased microbial activity in that area may chemically affect the filling, or the decay may cause it to dislodge.
- Faulty brushing is also one of the reasons how your cement from a filled tooth can come out.
- Sometimes, a crown may get dislodged due to improper fitting, or faulty tooth preparation to begin with. (2)
What to do if your filling comes out?
The most important thing for you to keep in mind if your filling comes out- Do not panic. It is something that can be re-done by your dentist.
Make sure to know that it is just your cement that has come off and there is no chipping of any tooth edge. This is more common with anterior teeth than posterior teeth.
If you are having any pain, you can use home remedies like clove oil. Take a few drops in a cotton swab and place it over the tooth. You can also use tea bags for pain relief.
If the pain or discomfort is too much to bear, you can set up an emergency dental appointment with your dentist. If you have no significant symptoms, make time and visit your dentist to have the tooth examined.
Once you go to your dentist with a dislodged filling, they will examine that tooth to check for any underlying decay. If the bacteria have caused the filling to come out, the decay has to be first removed and then restored.
If your dentist feels that the damage may have penetrated deeper into the tooth, an x-ray will help to know the extent of the damage.
If there is no advanced decay, then the dentist will clean the remnants of the filling, remove any food debris and then re-fill the cavity with an appropriate restorative cement. (3)
If your doctor feels that the decay has reached the pulp, a root canal is required. In this case, the dentist will thoroughly clean the canals in the root and then fill them with an artificial material.
Then you either get a crown placed over the tooth or just a new filling. This depends on the tooth structure lost while removing caries.
In severe cases where the extent of the bacterial invasion is such that the tooth cannot be salvaged, you will have to get that tooth extracted. Following this, you can replace the missing tooth with a bridge or implant.
Remember to not chew on anything hard within the first few days of getting a new filling.
The filling in your tooth is not limited to one kind only. Depending on the location of the tooth, the type of cavity, age and many other factors, your dentist can recommend a filling for you.
A silver amalgam filling is a cement made of an alloy of mercury and other metals. Since it is not tooth colored, it is best for posterior teeth.
These teeth are subject to biting pressure, making amalgam ideal. This is because amalgam has properties which make it stronger for withstanding these forces. (4)
You can also get tooth colored fillings like composite resin or glass ionomer cement in the teeth. These are best suited for the front teeth. (5)
If there is extensive tooth loss due to decay, your dentist will advise you to have a crown placed over the tooth. Crowns can be of metal, ceramic, or porcelain fused to metal. Again, the material depends on the tooth in question.
Metal or porcelain fused to metal (PFM) crowns are suitable for the molars.
Over to you
As we have read, a filling can come out for many reasons, and the ideal thing is to have it restored by your dentist. It doesn’t actually matter how well a tooth is worked on. There is no guarantee for any filling.
Hence, do not be surprised at dislodgement and make sure you visit your dentist regularly and care for your teeth.