emergency fillingsYou just bit down on a piece of popcorn, and right away something does not feel right. What should you do? At Dental Associates of West MI, we often receive calls about emergency fillings. Some of the callers are in pain, and some are just plain concerned about their teeth. Below are answers to some of the most common questions about emergency fillings:

How do you know you need an emergency filling?
If you need an emergency filling, you will know! In many cases, you need a filling because an older filling has been lost, which happens as original fillings age, when a tooth cracks, or as tooth decay progresses underneath the old filling. You may or may not notice when the original filling falls out. Other times you may suddenly notice pain indicating that you need an emergency filling where there was no filling before. To some dentists, a filling is not an emergency, but at Dental Associates of West MI, we know the pain that can come with cold air, food, or liquids, and also the way a sharp-edged tooth can cut your tongue and gums. Rather than suffer, it’s important to contact your dentist for an emergency filling. Some of these symptoms can signal a lost crown or other issues, so if you’re not sure, you can always just contact an emergency dentist to describe your symptoms, and say that you suspect you need an emergency filling.

What’s the biggest hazard of a lost filling?
Lost fillings can be painful, but the biggest problem is that a lost filling increases your risk of dental infection. It also limits your ability to chew on one side of your mouth, which stresses the teeth on the opposite side. Rather than risk pain and further damage, it’s important to get the filling replaced as quickly as possible.

What should I do when I lose a filling?
Brush and floss gently, or at least rinse with warm (not hot or cold) water. Avoid chewing in the affected area.

Is it worthwhile to save an original filling that fell out?
If you become aware that a filling has fallen out, it may help to save it and bring it to the dentist with you. The dentist may be able to determine why the filling has fallen out to begin with from that piece of evidence.

Is there any way to help with the pain?
Traditional over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin, acetaminophen, and Ibuprofen may help curb the pain. Clove oil (eugenol), which is available in the pharmacy and sometimes in the spice aisle of the grocery store, is a natural numbing agent when used on problems involving teeth and gums. Just a small drop applied with a Q-tip may help.

What can I do temporarily if I can’t get to a dentist the same day?
First of all, call to consult with a dentist. Depending on your situation, a temporary repair may be appropriate. If the dentist advises a temporary repair, you can try to cover the area with sugar free gum, or soft wax, and even temporary filling material sold in pharmacies. Try to get to a dentist within 48 hours.

What will the dentist do?
At Dental Associates of West MI, replacement of lost fillings is approached as an emergency dental procedure to address pain and prevent further damage. After assessing the area, a dentist will remove any decay that developed between the old filling and the tooth, and place a new filling.

Fillings are meant to be “permanent” or at least last for a long time. Ask your dentist about the status of your fillings when you have your teeth cleaned. And if you need an emergency filling, contact a dentist Grand Rapids relies on for a wide variety of dental needs, from regular cleanings to emergency dental care: Dental Associates of West MI.

Photo: Collin Grady

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