Cracked & Broken Fillings

Triaging a Cracked or Broken Filling

broken toothIf you’re reading this, chances are you’ve had a filling or two before. It’s as common as anything; over 90% of US adults are estimated to have had at least one cavity (and, so, filling) in their lifetime. And just as common, is the number of Cincinnati patients we see for cracked or broken fillings.

Things happen – and it’s not a big deal to crack a filling; sometimes you can’t even feel that the filling’s broken. But there are some signs to look out for, because while cracking a filling is no big deal, ignoring a cracked or broken filling can quickly become one if you don’t call your local dentist ASAP.

Here are 3 signs you’ve cracked or broken a filling:

  • Sudden tooth sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Pain when biting down
  • The tooth hurts when touched

When you’ve noticed a problem with your filling, give our office a call. We leave room for emergency dental appointments in our calendar for cases just like these. But you still may have to wait a bit. If your broken filling isn’t causing you any pain, that’s great. But if your cracked filling is giving you an awful toothache, there are ways to make the wait more comfortable.

What do to at home while you wait to have the broken filling repaired:

  • Gently swish with warm salt water (cleanses)
  • Try dabbing clove oil, vanilla extract or garlic oil (relieves pain)
  • Cold compresses (relieves pain and inflammation)
  • Ibuprofen (relieves pain and inflammation

Cincinnati patients with fillings that are broken, cracked, loose, or have fallen out, can call our office for emergency dental care, as well as advice on how to care for your broken filling yourself before your appointment with one of our local family dentists.

Who’s at Risk for Cracking or Breaking a Filling?

Fillings do their best, but the fact is, they’re just adhered to your teeth. And no matter how well your filling was put in, chances are it might crack or break at some point. There are a few reasons your filling might crack, break or fall out:

  • Further decay in the filled tooth
  • TMJ
  • Chronic teeth grinding and/or clenching
  • Accidents (Physical trauma)

And there are things that put people more at risks for breaking a filling, like:

  • Eating sticky, hard or crunchy foods
  • Poor dental hygiene
  • Neglecting regular dental care
  • Filling is old (They typically last around 15 years)

Some of the most common foods that damage our dental fillings by cracking or breaking them, you wouldn’t immediately think were dangerous to your fillings. The top nine foods and beverages that can damage a filling are:

  • Ice,
  • Hard candies
  • Dried fruit
  • Potato chips
  • Alcohol
  • Citrus
  • Coffee
  • Sports drinks

We don’t often look at some of these as causing damage to a filling or a tooth, but they happen to be common culprits. People who chew items like jerky, tough meat, and hard vegetables are also susceptible to experiencing a cracked or broken filling.

You’ll notice with all the foods we discussed, that they’re either (1) hard/crunchy, or (2) acidic/sugary. It’s obvious how hard foods can crack or break a filling – the biting down overloads the filling and compromises it. But sugary and acidic foods are just as dangerous to fillings, because they slowly eat away at the adherence of the filling and the tooth, which can cause the filling to become loose, crack, break or fall out.

How to Prevent Needing a Damaged Filling Replaced

The answer’s pretty much the same as how to prevent all other oral health problems: The best way to prevent cracking a filling, or worse, breaking a filling, is to get regular dental care from your Cincinnati family dentist, and keep up on your dental hygiene at home.

The better you care for your mouth day-to-day, the easier it will be for your dentist to catch a loose or aging filling before it becomes a real problem. As well, the easier it will be for you to tell right away when something seems off with a filling.

There are a few additional things you can do to prevent cracking a filling, like:

  • Wear a mouth guard whilst sleeping if you have bruxism (grind your teeth).
  • Avoid biting down really hard, whether into hard foods or into really soft foods with too much force.
  • Don’t pick up habits like biting the ends of pencils or your nails.

Never Ignore a Cracked, Broken or Loose Filling

Fillings will weaken the longer they are in place. It is important to have your dentist regularly check every filling (another good reason for regular dental visits!). The slightest crack in a filling will allow bacteria to enter the tooth and possibly get to the root. Prolonged exposure to any bacteria can cause problems elsewhere in the body. Cracked fillings can be easily identified by a simple dental probe or an x-ray – all you need to do is call your dentist for an emergency appointment.

Options for Repairing a Damaged Filling

The first step in repairing a broken filling is to determine whether the filling can be saved. Unfortunately, sometimes, it may need to be replaced.

If the filling can be repaired, there are a few options available. Your dentist will recommend the best choices for your case.

  • Composite Bonding

Composite bonding is one method that does not require anesthesia. It will last longer than a typical filling will last. The material used can match the tooth in color and shape.

  • Root Canal & Crown

If bacteria has entered the tooth and resulted in the decaying of the root, then a root canal will be needed to clean out the decayed matter. A dental crown may be required after the root canal. Although root canals have acquired a reputation for being painful, this is actually not true today. The patient will experience only mild discomfort.

  • Filling Replacement

If the filling is severely cracked, then it may need to be replaced. New materials for fillings are available, and they create a stronger filling. Your dentist will evaluate the area of the tooth that surrounds the filling, and the dentist will also discuss the foods and beverages you consume.

Contact Beckham Square Family Dental to Repair Cracked or Broken Fillings

While it’s not a medical emergency, a cracked, broken or fallen-out filling is a dental emergency, and not something to wait on having fixed. Those fillings are there for a reason; leaving the tooth, root and/or nerve unprotected can be painful, and puts you at risk for infection. So, if you’re wondering how long you can wait after you’ve broken a filling, we’d recommend not waiting at all.

Our Cincinnati-based family dental practice leaves room in our schedule for dental emergencies. And broken fillings are a quick and easy fix! If you’re concerned about one of your fillings, or need a cracked filling repaired by a local emergency dentist, we’re happy to help. Cracked and broken fillings require comprehensive care from a top Cincinnati dentist.

Beckham Square Family Dental offers family and cosmetic dental services to patients in Sharonville, Evendale, Springdale, Cincinnati, and the surrounding areas. If you think you might have a cracked filling, contact us at 513.489.7800 for an appointment – or use the contact form below. Don’t ignore a cracked or broken filling and risk a greater problem.