Dental fillings are materials put on decaying teeth to restore the tooth’s original shape and function and to prevent further decay.  If a cavity is too large for a filling or the tooth is too weak for a filling, the dentist will put a crown on the tooth.  Like a filling, a dental crown restores the original shape and function of the tooth and can strengthen the tooth.  Occasionally, fillings and crowns can come off.  Very rarely is this an emergency, but you will want to make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.  Don’t panic!  Until you are able to see your dentist, here are some steps you can take to help protect your teeth and avoid further damage.

  1. If possible, save the filling or crown. 

If you didn’t notice losing the filling or crown and think you may have swallowed it, don’t worry, most people pass them with no issues.  However, if you are able to retrieve the filling or crown from your mouth, save it and bring it with you to your dentist appointment.  While we won’t be able to reuse the filling, there’s a chance we can reuse a lost crown after cleaning it thoroughly.  If you still have your dental crown, it may also be possible for you to temporarily place it back on your tooth.  First, carefully wash the inside of the crown.  Then, using tooth cement, secure the crown over the tooth.  Tooth cement can be found in the dental section of most drugstores and pharmacies.  Remember, this is a temporary solution and you should still see your dentist as soon as possible.

  1. Use a temporary filling material to protect the exposed tooth.

After making an appointment with your dentist, your top priority should be to protect the tooth.  Not only will the tooth be particularly sensitive, but it is also more vulnerable to further decay and damage.  To help protect the tooth, you can coat the tooth with dental cement or dental wax to prevent bacteria from entering.  You should continue practicing good dental hygiene by thoroughly brushing your teeth at least twice a day. 

  1. Beware of tooth sensitivity and pain.

If you lose a filling or crown, there is a good chance the tooth will be particularly sensitive and perhaps even painful.  This is because the nerves inside the tooth may be exposed from where the crown or filling once was.  If you are experiencing pain from a lost crown or filling, try applying clove oil to the tooth, which can help alleviate pain.  Clove oil can be found in most drugstores.  If your teeth are feeling sensitive, avoid especially chewy foods and extremely hot or extremely cold foods/drinks.

None of these steps should take the place of seeing your dentist, so if you think you have lost a filling or crown, be sure to make an appointment as soon as possible.  Your dentist will be able to evaluate what caused the filling or crown to come off in the first place, and will remove decay and secure a new filling or crown.

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