Does a lost dental filling call for an immediate trip to the dentist? For some people, a lost filling can trigger immediate discomfort, whereas others will be largely unaffected. Still, it's not something that should be put off. But does it mean that there's a greater problem than the cavity that resulted in the filling in the first place?
Firstly, it's important to discuss ways to manage any discomfort, which is also a helpful indication of the severity of the problem. The cavity is a hole, and the filling filled that hole. Now that the hole is unfilled, you might appreciate a temporary solution. Fortunately, a small amount of dental wax will temporarily plug that hole, and failing that, a tiny piece of sugar-free chewing gum will do the job. Do you actually need a temporary solution though?
Careful With What You Eat
These stopgap measures will be beneficial if the lost filling has caused extra sensitivity, discomfort or even pain. Some sensitivity is to be expected, and this can be aggravated by your diet. Be careful to avoid foods that are too hot or cold, and you may wish to chew using the unaffected side of your mouth. Discomfort or pain can indicate that the cavity has deepened, and has possibly breached your pulp chamber, which is where the tooth's pulp (or nerve) is located.
The Original Filling
The best solution for the problem will depend on the severity of the problem. Dental fillings don't last forever, and their longevity is determined by the materials used, the original size of the cavity, how much tooth surface was replaced by the filling material and how well you've been caring for your teeth. In many cases, your dentist will simply need to replace the filling.
In some cases, a simple filling won't be sufficient. When your pulp chamber has been breached, it might be that your dental pulp has become infected. This means that a root canal, another filling and a dental crown might be necessary. When the cavity has grown in size without breaching the pulp chamber, a filling might still not be enough to protect your tooth. In this instance, a dental crown that encases the entire tooth will generally be your best bet.
Don't put off having a lost filling treated by your dentist. If you are experiencing discomfort or pain, it's best to see your dentist immediately. Contact a dentist for more information.