So you’ve cracked a filling! It happens to the best of us, usually out of the blue. It’s an awful feeling. There’s something hard in your mouth that’s not food. You’ve broken a filling. What do you do? When you’ve cracked a filling, how long can you wait?
Don’t panic. This is an extremely common dental issue, in fact our number one reason for dental emergencies. The first question you should ask yourself if a filling falls out: Do you feel pain? This will help determine if this is a 24 hour dental emergency or just something you need to address in the next couple of weeks.
If exposed tissue causes sensitivity or pain, you need an emergency dentist. Don’t worry! We tend to keep a few appointment slots open just for such emergencies. Broken or cracked fillings are nothing to worry about.
If your filling fell out but you’re feeling no pain, it’s not an immediate dental emergency, otherwise known as a 24 hour dental emergency. We don’t necessarily need to get you in that day. But we do need to see you as soon as possible. If a filling falls out but you’re feeling no pain, it still counts as a dental emergency — just not a critical one. It’s important not to ignore the cracked filling. Your tooth is now exposed to bacteria, which will continue to eat away at the tooth.
Call your Tucson dentist as soon as possible and tell us about your dental emergency. We’ll get you in soon — perhaps even on the same day.
There’s not much you can do to fix a broken filling on your own, aside from pain treatment. You can take over-the-counter pain medication if your tooth hurts. We’d also recommend a hot salt-water rinse to clean the area and protect it from infection. Cold compresses such as an ice-pack will help reduce swelling.
If it will be a few days before your emergency dental appointment, you can always cap the affected area with dental cement in the meantime. You can purchase some at your local drug store.
When you visit our Tucson office, we’ll take dental x-rays so we can see the extent of the damage and identify any other potential problems. Ideally, we’ll just replace the filling. Even if you’re feeling no pain, we still need to replace the filling. Your dentist will discuss filling options available.
Sometimes you may need an implant crown to fully protect the tooth. This is if there has been extensive decay underneath the filling. You may even need a root canal or other dental emergency. In rare instances, you may need the broken tooth extracted and replaced with a dental implant.
Occasionally, we may refer you to a specialist such as a root canal specialist or a more specialized cosmetic dentist.
In most cases when you crack a filling, the tooth is restorable. The type of filling we use to repair your tooth depends on where the tooth is located. For molars or premolars, you have the choice of an amalgam (silver) filling or composite and glass ionomer (tooth-colored) material. Front teeth that are prominent in your smile will usually take a composite and glass ionomer filling.
We can always do tooth colored restorations if you like.
Sometimes a broken filling results in a cracked or chipped tooth. Don’t panic, but call us immediately at our Casas Adobes dentist office near Tucson. We might replace the tooth itself and do a dental implant. Perhaps we’ll simply do a dental veneer (different from a crown) to replace the missing area of the tooth.