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Modern dental fillings are made of immensely durable material – able to withstand hard chewing and last in your mouth for decades without requiring replacement. But nothing is quite as strong as a real tooth. That means that you could find yourself in a situation where your filling chips, cracks, or falls off – especially if you chew into something extremely hard.

If your filling completely falls out, it is helpful to see a dentist quickly. If your tooth experiences any additional decay, there is a risk that the infection might enter the root, potentially requiring a root canal. But if it just chips, you may not need to rush to the dentist, but you should still schedule an appointment.

Why Did My Filling Chip?

Fillings chip for the same reasons that real teeth chip: not even something as strong as a tooth can withstand all force. If you accidentally or purposefully chew on something solid, there’s a chance that your filling was unable to handle the pressure, and chips as a result.

Other reasons that your filling may have chipped include:

  • Much older filling.
  • Didn’t bond correctly to the tooth.
  • Bacteria got underneath the filling.
  • Stress has caused nighttime clenching.

Sometimes, it’s not entirely clear why a filling chips. But no matter the cause, a replacement filling should be less likely to chip again.

Most Chipped Fillings Are Non-Emergencies

The good news is that, while it is a good idea to get the filling repaired quickly, it is not typically an emergency. Although your filling protected your tooth from damage, your roots are unlikely to be exposed and there is minimal risk of a deeper cavity occurring overnight.

However, you will need to pay attention to your pain and discomfort. A little bit of tooth sensitivity is normal with hot or cold beverages. But if you are experiencing a lot of pain, or the pain is constant and ongoing, that’s a sign that there may be more damage that could require more intensive treatment. It is typically a good idea to rush to an appointment. At Dental Concepts in Salinas, we can usually schedule you in quickly.

If you’re not experiencing any pain or your pain is minimal and only when drinking cold/hot beverages, you should still schedule an appointment soon, but you may not need to rush. Give us a call right away, and we’ll schedule you in at a time that is convenient for you.

First Steps

As soon as you suspect that your filling has chipped, you’ll want to give your teeth a thorough brushing and rinse your mouth out with saltwater. This will help ensure that the area is disinfected. Every day, you’ll want to make sure that this area gets an especially good brushing because there is an even greater risk that food particles will get stuck.

Gargling salt water is useful. It will help to limit bacterial growth until your appointment. Mouthwash can help as well, but some people find that it causes irritation if they have any tooth sensitivity.