While losing a filling is not a dental emergency, it is also not something that you should take lightly. After all, when a filling falls out, it may be an indication that the teeth around it have started to decay, or it was not installed properly. Thus, you should see your dentist as soon as possible to not only have the filling replaced, but also to check if there are any other dental problems that need to be addressed. Also, make sure that you carefully remove the filling from your mouth in order to avoid accidentally swallowing it. While a swallowed filling generally does not cause any problems, it may result in an infection if it gets into your lungs.
If you do not have a filling replaced, you could suffer from increased sensitivity to hot or cold food and drinks. This is because the dentin inside the tooth is now exposed, and you may suffer pain when you eat, or even all the time.
Having an exposed cavity means that your teeth are not only harder to clean, but also that you may suffer from bad breath, since food debris may get inside the hole, and slowly decay. In addition, you become more prone to tooth decay as good dental hygiene becomes harder to maintain. Eventually, the tooth could weaken and crack or break, meaning that you will lose it for good. Your dentist may need to extract what remains of the tooth.
Another consequence of an untreated cavity is that it may become more difficult for the dentist to repair it. The longer the dentin inside the tooth is exposed to saliva, the more likely it will become sclerotic. Sclerotic dentin happens when the little tubes inside it close to protect the nerves of the teeth. It then becomes harder for the white filling to bond with it, making the replacement of the filling more difficult.
Here are some first aid tips to help address the damage until you can see your dentist.
1. You can seal the affected area by putting a little dental cement on it. This will help prevent pain and sensitivity. There are a number of commercially available dental filling materials that you can use for first aid. However, these are only intended to last a few days.
2. You can relieve pain by applying a little clove oil to the cavity with a cotton swab. Clove oil is available from the drugstore, or from your supermarket spice shelves.
If you cannot afford the cost of a permanent filling, your dentist can install a temporary one. This allows you to prevent the cavity from getting worse while you are saving up for a permanent filling. You can discuss your options for having your filling replaced with your dentist.