If you have fillings or crowns on your teeth, it can be scary when you feel them floating in your mouth and you know that they have fallen out. But don’t panic, it is a common occurrence and can be dealt with quickly. Your first step is a call to your dentist, who can determine the necessary treatment and how quickly you need to come into the office. But let’s talk about some additional steps you can take when you have fillings or crowns, and they need care.
It would be best if you regularly visited your dentist for dental care to detect any problems with your fillings or crowns. They can identify uneven wear or any margins that might be an indicator that you may have problems in the future. Seeing your dentist also allows them to provide proper oral hygiene instructions and full cleanings to help control the growth of bacterial plaque, which can cause tooth decay. Tooth decay forming around the margin of a filling can compromise that restoration. Without the proper regular care, you may find yourself not knowing what steps to take when your filling falls out, or a crown becomes loose.
Regular dental visits
Most fillings or restorations will have a breaking point and can eventually fail and need replacement. It is essential to discuss their care during regular visits to the dentist to determine if there is a time to be proactive and replace them. However, sometimes things can happen, and your filling or crown can fall out unexpectedly. These events, while not usually considered an emergency, may cause pain, discomfort, and a need for a dentist’s visit in addition to your standard two times a year.
Brushing and flossing
Brush and floss daily. While most of us brush the prescribed two times a day, sometimes we neglect to floss. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, tooth decay and gum disease can develop when plaque is allowed to build up on teeth and along the gum line. That plaque can cause tooth decay that creates margins around your filling or crown that may lead to it eventually falling out.
Change habits that may impact your teeth
According to the American Dental Association, many factors can contribute to a filling or crown becoming chipped or broken.
- Be aware of whether you grind or clench your teeth due to stress or while sleeping. Use a mouth guard if needed, or work on making behavioral changes to eliminate the wear and tear on your teeth.
- Don’t chew on ice or hard candy that can crack or damage your teeth.
- Don’t use your teeth to open or tear anything – always use scissors or a cutting utensil.
Steps to take if you experience a lost filling or crown
- Call your dentist and book an appointment based on their recommendation
- If you’ve lost a crown, try to save it. If you’ve lost a filling, wash out your mouth to assure that you don’t bite down on the dental material and cause additional damage.
- Use dental wax to fill the void or cover an exposed nerve. The wax can help keep food out of the void and hopefully alleviate any pain you might experience.
- Take an OTC pain killer to help reduce any pain
- Avoid chewing on the affected side of the mouth until repairs are complete.
- Follow any instructions provided by your dentist.
What to Expect at the Appointment
If your filling or crown fall out or your crown is loose, you don’t need to worry. Most dental offices have a set amount of time they schedule to allow for emergency or urgent need appointments for lost fillings or other dental problems. If you need care on the weekend, most dental offices have an emergency contact protocol. Either they will give you a number you will call, or someone on-call will return your call.
When you arrive at your appointment, an assistant or dentist will review your situation. They will probably have some questions about the history of the restoration and what happened to cause the filling or crown to fail. They will examine you and possibly use X-rays to determine the best course of action. If the tooth is restorable, the dentist will discuss your options for filling materials or gluing the crown back in. If the dentist decides that you need a referral to another dental professional, they can guide you through that process. Sometimes, your tooth may need a root canal and a new crown or cap to restore the tooth’s integrity.
- Filling Choice – If the tooth is restorable, where the tooth is located will determine the type of work they will complete. You can choose between an amalgam (silver) filling or composite and glass ionomer (tooth-colored) material if it is a premolar or molar. If your issue is with a front tooth (incisor or canine), the best choice for aesthetics is a composite and glass ionomer filling. The back teeth experience the most significant chewing forces, where the amalgam filling is seen as the stronger material and will most likely last longer. You can confer with your dentist about whether or not they can place exclusively tooth-colored restorations where the tooth is more visible. You should discuss with your dentist the best option for your situation.
- Is a Crown Needed? – If there is extensive loss of a tooth, a crown or cap is your best option. In the case of the crown, there is a multi-step process. Typically, the first step is to create and put on a temporary crown or sedative filling. This covering will protect the tooth while the permanent crown is being created. The permanent crown preparation and placement will happen at an additional visit.
- Root canal option – If you have a crown, this step has most likely already occurred, but when your filling falls out, there are times when it uncovers a deeper cavity or exposure to the nerve of the tooth. In this case, your dentist will probably recommend a root canal followed by a crown’s placement. It is rare, but on occasion, the loss of a filling or fractured tooth may be so severe that the best option is to remove the tooth or extraction. If this is the case in your situation, the oral surgeon and dentist will create and present your treatment plan to replace the tooth.
When your filling or crown falls out or your tooth breaks, there is no need to sound an alarm. But do contact your dentist immediately. Your dentist can walk you through the best treatment plan after an examination. Let your dentist help you out of a stressful situation and avoid the cause of any pain you may be experiencing. It’s a common issue, and they are happy to help.