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A Loose Filling — Is It Time To Panic?
Chances are that, if you ever required emergency dental services, you have a dental filling. They are versatile, helpful, and are a great way to save your teeth from extraction. However, once in a while, we end up with a loose filling without really knowing why. Did we brush our teeth wrong? Have we ignored safety procedures?
Whatever it is, it’s important to know what to do if we find ourselves in a similar situation. Can we do something about it at home or do we need to go to a dentist as soon as possible?
All About Dental Fillings
A dental filling is one of the oldest and most popular methods to fill a cavity or restore a broken tooth. They are mostly used to fill holes created by tooth decay with the purpose of covering the inner layers of your tooth. To further protect the filling and the structural integrity of the tooth, some dentists decide to crown it. Yet sometimes, not even a crown can help enough, and we still end up with a loose filling.
Why Do Some Dental Fillings Come Loose?
While dental fillings are durable and allow the teeth to chew just like they normally would, they sometimes come loose. Trauma and further teeth decay can damage dental fillings. Even activities such as nail-biting can make the most durable of fillings come loose.
It’s also important to know that each filling has a life expectancy. Once its time has come, a replacement will be necessary. If you don’t replace it in time, you could end up with an infection that may require the dentist to extract your tooth.
What Are The Symptoms of a Loose Filling?
A healthy dental filling lies sturdy in place, while damaged ones do not. Therefore, the primary indicator that you are dealing with a loose filling is the unusual sensation you get when your tongue brushes the tooth. The moment you notice that something is off place when you touch your tooth is the moment you should go to a walk-in dentist.
Furthermore, you might also experience any of the following as a result of having a loose filling:
- Throbbing pain
- Tooth sensitivity to cold or hot food and liquids
- Tooth sensitivity to pressure
- Pain when touching the filling
- Biting problems
What Should I Do Next?
If you are sure that you are dealing with a loose filling, it’s time to fix it. Most dentists will treat it as a tooth emergency and, as a result, will tend to you without an appointment. You can take a look at this article if you want to read more about what is and what is not a dental emergency.
Even so, your best bet is to call in advance and get booked before heading in. If you’re experiencing loose filling pain, there are a few ways you can handle it before your next appointment:
- Use an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen
- Apply cold compresses or ice for 10–15 minutes at a time to relieve pain and swelling
- Use a numbing agent, such as Anbesol, to temporarily numb the affected area
- Buy some clove oil and apply it to the exposed tooth to reduce swelling
Why Do I Need to Go to a Dentist?
Even though going to your local emergency dentist might not be a fun experience, you need to do it as soon as you suspect that you have a loose filling. Over time, a damaged filling can let in bacteria that will lead to further tooth decay. In the end, you might end up with a serious infection that will require a lot more time and money to fix.
Modern procedures are virtually painless and dentists take great care when treating your teeth. You should go to the dentist even if you are afraid. As previously stated, ignoring the filling will do you more harm than good.
What To Expect at the Appointment
All dentists will start by inspecting the loose filling and the immediate area. If a chipped tooth is what caused the filling to come loose, they might take an X-ray before proceeding with treatment.
Next, the dentist will remove the decay that has developed between the filling and your tooth. Once that’s done, they will either place a new filling or do a root canal if the tooth is too decayed. In the event that you have large areas of decay, your dentist might recommend a dental crown. Nevertheless, you can relax knowing that your dentist will do anything they can to save your tooth.
How Can I Prevent Fillings From Coming Loose?
Although no filling will last forever, there are a few tips you can follow to protect it:
- Try to avoid grinding your teeth. If you tend to do it in your sleep, you can use a mouth guard to help you stop
- Be careful when biting hard foods
- Cut down on sticky or sugary foods, as they can dislodge fillings and increase the risk of tooth decay
- Use fluoride toothpaste when brushing your teeth
- Replace your toothbrush every three months to avoid bacterial buildup
One of the most important pieces of advice any dentist can give you is that you should try and have a check up at least twice per year. That way, they can easily discover problems with your fillings before they come loose or fall off completely. Furthermore, a dentist will know if your filling has worn out and requires a replacement.
All things considered, it’s clear that with good dental hygiene, a filling will last a long time, but never forever. If you are having trouble with a loose filling, you should contact your emergency dental care center as soon as possible. Waiting too long will eventually cause more serious tooth decay and, in turn, more pain. Until you see the dentist, try and clean the area as well as you can and avoid hard or chewy foods.
And just remember — prevention is better than cure. You only have one set of teeth so don’t waste them. Take care of them and you will most likely never have to deal with pain or discomfort.