Dental fillings are oral health superheroes. They exist to protect parts of your tooth structure that have been damaged by cavities or external trauma. The filling material used restores and replaces the missing parts of your tooth. In the vast majority of cases the full function and integrity of the tooth is renewed. Many of us have a filling or two. You may not even remember all the fillings and restorations you have in your mouth. That is a sign of a job well done by your dentist. Fillings usually last anywhere between 5 and 15 years without issue depending on their size, the material used and the wear and tear of the specific tooth.
When a filling has reached the end of its life, it is fairly common for it to fall out, leaving an exposure in your tooth. If this has happened to you or does in the near future, the first thing you will want to do is call or email your dentist to set up an appointment. The filling will have to be professionally refilled as well as examined to ensure there is no further decay, infection or damage to the actual tooth. Such issues require treatment or preventative care.
Lost fillings can be painful as the more sensitive internal parts of the tooth are suddenly exposed to the elements they had been protected from. This of course includes cavity causing bacteria. A lack of pain is no reason to delay a replacement as time will work against the affected tooth when it comes to decay or damage. An exposed tooth can quickly go from a small problem to a big pain.
Depending on how quickly you are able to get an appointment with your dentist, you may need to use a temporary filling from your local pharmacy or Amazon.ca (search temporary filling). They are fairly cheap and easy to use. This is particularly true if the tooth with the lost filling has sharp or bothersome edges. You can feel these when running your tongue around the affected tooth. Before a filling is placed by a dentist, the surrounding area must be drilled and prepared, often leading to sharper and more precise edges. This makes for an easier area to work with. The temporary filling is usually a thick cement type material that must be rolled into a small ball. It is then placed into the hole left by the missing filling as precisely as possible. Doing this not only prevents increased exposure to infection, it can also relieve sensitivity related pain and related discomfort. It is also quite easy.
As good as your temporary filling may be, they are merely a carry over until an actual filling is replaced by your dentist. They are called temporary for a reason. Your dentist will likely take x-rays of the affected tooth to ensure that no new decay or damage to the tooth has occurred. If there happens to be decay, a cleaning must be done before the filling. If the pulp of the tooth has been adversely impacted, a root canal is required to prevent pain and further infection. Last but not least, if more tooth structure is lost or the dentist deems it appropriate, a crown may be needed as a cap to cover whatever tooth structure remains. The fact that any of these procedures may be needed is further evidence that your dentist must be consulted when dealing with a lost filling.
When dental fillings do their job you do not notice them. Getting them back there quickly will allow you to focus on more important things.
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