The lifespan of a dental filling depends on various factors, including which type of material is used, the placement of the filling, your eating habits, and your overall dental hygiene. Keeping up with your biannual dental checkups often allows our expert team to detect a problematic filling before it becomes an emergency, but sometimes dental emergencies happen no matter how well you maintain your oral care. Having a filling fall out can be scary, but there's really no reason to panic, especially if you know what to do in advance. With that in mind, here are a few tips that will help you be prepared and panic-free if your dental filling falls out:
1. Gently Remove It From Your Mouth
If your filling comes out, chances are you'll notice it immediately while it's still loose in your mouth; if so, carefully remove it. Accidentally swallowing a filling is rarely harmful, because it should pass without incident. However, if you inhale it (the technical term is "aspiration"), you might require medical intervention to retrieve it from the lungs with a tool called a bronchoscope (a fiber-optic cable that's stuck down the windpipe).
2. Keep the Area Clean
When a filling falls out, there obviously will be a hole in your tooth where the filling had been. To prevent food particles from collecting in the newly exposed area, it's important to keep it as clean as possible by rinsing the area with warm water and gently brushing if it's not too sensitive. Moreover, adding salt to the warm water can help protect the area from infection.
3. Cover If Sensitive
The exposed area will likely be sensitive to hot and cold foods and liquids, and also to air. If it is sensitive, covering it with an over-the-counter (OTC) dental wax will help protect the area and reduce your pain. Even sugar-free gum can help temporarily cover the area. There are also OTC gels and oils containing numbing medicines like benzocaine or clove oil, which are effective but provide only very short-term relief. OTC analgesics like ibuprofen and acetaminophen can also help control minor pain.
4. Call Us for Emergency Dental Care
Of course, all of the above tips are just temporary measures until you can get in to see Dr. Stratman. Both our Oracle Road and Wilmot Road locations offer same-day emergency dental care! So if you have a filling fall out, call us immediately.