It can be a moment of panic. You crunch down on something, and the crunch was a little louder than expected. You assess the damage and realize that a filling has come out. It’s freaky and can even be a little bit painful now that the previously restored tooth is now exposed. If you’ve just lost a filling, stay calm and follow these steps.
Recover the lost filling.
At this point, you’ve hopefully removed the filling from your mouth so that you don’t accidentally swallow or inhale it. Swallowing it is not a huge deal if you did, but breathing it in could cause a lung infection. Once you’ve recovered the loose or cracked filling, call the dentist right away.
Practice cracked filling first aid.
If you now have an exposed nerve due to the displaced filling or crown, your tooth can be extremely sensitive to hot and cold. If the pain is extra-severe, you can take some over-the-counter pain medications. You can also try to cover the exposed area with a temporary filling material, such as a piece of sugar-free gum or an over-the-counter dental cement.
Clean up the scene as best you can.
As you’re waiting for the dental appointment, clean up the now-unfilled tooth to keep it free of bacteria. Brush gently and carefully in the damaged tooth to remove debris. You can also rinse with warm salt water to flush bacteria and food particles away. Use one teaspoon of salt in one cup of warm salt water.
Get to the dentist.
Keep in mind that these are measures to be taken in an emergency, and that the problem needs to be addressed further with a visit to the dentist. Often, the filling can be replaced with a new one, but if it fell out due to further damage or decay to the tooth, a more extensive treatment plan may be necessary.
Most fillings don’t last forever, especially older ones. Seeing the dentist regularly can ensure that fillings and crowns are holding up. If you end up with a cracked filling or cracked crown in between dental visits, follow these steps to alleviate the pain and protect your teeth, and give us a call right away.