What to Do When You Break Your Filling

Did you just break a filling? Don’t panic. Keep calm and call your dentist.

It happens to the best of us. We’re chewing away, enjoying a sandwich, not a care in the world, when something falls into your mouth you know is not a piece of salami. It’s not the end of the world, but you don’t want to ignore it either. Over time, a lost filling will cause infection, which may lead to a root canal. In extreme cases, an ignored broken filling can even lead to a fatal bacterial infection.

An Ounce of Prevention

Most filling problems can be detected before they break. A dentist can do a check up for any margins, uneven wear, loose or damaged fillings. A dentist can also teach you proper care to avoid bacterial infections, a leading cause of tooth decay. A tooth that decays around a filling can cause it to fall out.

Restoration Procedures

Most dentists can get you in fairly quickly for an emergency appointment. You’ll probably have an oral X-ray, which will help the dentist decide on the best treatment approach. Your dentist might restore the tooth with a new filling. He or she may recommend a root canal, as well as a cap or crown if the damage is severe. In extreme occasions, the tooth may need to be extracted.

Usually, the placement of the tooth determines the level of restoration. Molars or premolars usually use amalgam (silver) filling or composite and glass ionomer (tooth-colored) materials. This is ideal because back teeth do the strongest chewing and the silver filling is more durable and lasts longer. Front teeth generally require a composite and glass ionomer filling because they are so noticeable when you smile. Most dentists will ultimately let you choose.

In the Meantime

If your tooth hurts, apply a little clove oil with a Q-Tip. This will help dull the pain. You can buy clove oil in most pharmacies as well as the spice aisle of the grocery store.

You might also consider buying over the counter dental cement to cover the tooth surface. This will help protect and seal the tooth until you can get in to see your dentist.