What to Do If Your Filling Falls Out:
1) You may have noticed that your toothbrush or toothpaste tube has fallen out of its holder.
This happens when one side of the tube becomes stuck between two teeth and cannot come free. When this occurs, it’s called a “filler.” A filler can be painful because there are no other tools available to remove it. If the toothbrush or tube is not immediately removed, it could become infected and lead to abscesses forming around the mouth.
2) Fillers are most common on lower front teeth (between upper front teeth).
They occur most often on the sides of the upper jaw where they meet. Most commonly these fillers develop after years of brushing with a hard bristle brush or using a soft toothpaste. Sometimes a child will put their finger into the gap between teeth and push down on the toothbrush handle causing it to fall out. Other times, children may chew gum or eat candy while brushing which causes them to lose their grip on the toothbrush.
3) Fillers can be caused by many things including:
a) Tooth decay – bacteria build up inside the mouth, leading to cavities.
b) Tooth wear – teeth are worn down or flattened over time due to grinding, clenching, or other habits.
c) Gum disease – infected gums can lead to fillers by opening the space between the tooth and the surrounding bone.
d) A blow to the face or head – a hard blow can cause a tooth to move out of place ever so slightly. This can also occur with a sudden, unexpected jolt to the head or jaw. Falls are most often the cause of this type of injury.
e) Fractured tooth – sometimes fillers occur after a major injury to the face. An important factor is whether the tooth is still attached to a vital structure such as a supporting bone. If the structure is damaged, then the tooth can shift out of place and become separated from the gums and other surrounding tissues. In this case, a filling may be necessary to help hold the tooth in place.
f) Tissue Decay – when a tooth is not cleaned properly and plaque builds up on the chewing surface, it can decay the gums and other tissues. When this occurs on one side of the jaw, it can push the tooth out of place over time.
4) Fillings are restorations, which means they are designed to replace the natural tooth structure that is lost or damaged.
There are two main types of fillings: amalgam and composite.
a) Amalgam fillings – these are tooth colored fillings made of a mixture of metals, such as silver, zinc, copper, and tin. These are the most common types of fillings because they are strong and less expensive than other types.
b) Composite fillings – these are tooth colored fillings made of a mixture of powdered quartz and plastic resin. These are often called “white fillings” because they reflect light in the way that natural teeth do. They are more expensive than amalgam fillings, but they are often recommended because they contain no metals that might be rejected by your body over time.
5) There are many reasons why a filling may fall out.
If the tooth decay or damage is very minor, the filling may hold in place. However, if the tooth was severely damaged or decayed, the filling may not be able to provide a strong enough bond to stay in place.
6) If you lose a filling, it is best to see your dentist right away.
An appointment can usually be scheduled within a few days. You can try to keep the space as clean as possible until you can get to this appointment. Clean it with a damp cotton swab or washcloth, but do not use peroxide, alcohol, or any other chemical. It is also not a good idea to excessively grind or bite down on that side of your mouth. Doing so can put unwanted pressure on the remaining filling or exposed root.
7) If you lost the filling from a back tooth, it is usually preferable to replace it.
However, if the front tooth was lost, it is usually best to leave it out. This is because there are so many muscles and tendons in play with our bite that replacing a front tooth may cause an imbalance that can result in the root or other teeth shifting out of place or wearing down unevenly.
How are fillings replaced?
1) First, your dentist will clean the tooth and prepare it for a filling.
This may involve removing more decayed or damaged tissue, and it may even require cutting away part of the bone that supports the tooth.
2) Next, the dentist will place and shape the filling.
The dentist will make an impression of the prepared tooth so that a permanent restoration can be made to replace the lost filling, if necessary.
Sources & references used in this article:
Finding out about filling-in: A guide to perceptual completion for visual science and the philosophy of perception by L Pessoa, E Thompson, A Noë – Behavioral and brain sciences, 1998 – cambridge.org
Filling a curriculum gap in chemistry by AH Johnstone, FF Al‐Naeme – International Journal of Science …, 1995 – Taylor & Francis
Filling in gaps in perception: Part I by VS Ramachandran – Current Directions in Psychological …, 1992 – journals.sagepub.com
How Shall We Best Insert a Gold Filling? by AG Smith – The American journal of dental science, 1898 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov