Fillings are durable, but they do not last forever no matter how skilled your cosmetic dentist is. General wear and tear, bad oral hygiene, bacteria from food debris buildup, grinding and clenching all contribute to breakdown of fillings. If your filling has chipped, there are things you should do to ensure that the area remains clean and free of bacteria. Chipped fillings that are left untreated can lead to a root canal and the possibility that the whole tooth will have to be removed.
What you can do when a filling chips
The first thing to do when a filling has chipped is to remove it from your mouth. You don’t want to accidentally swallow it or breathe it in. Swallowing a filling is not that harmful and most people pass it without any issues. However, breathing a filling into your lungs can be very problematic and lead to an infection. Once you’ve taken the filling out, call your dentist and take the first available appointment. If you chip your filling at night when your cosmetic dentist does not have office hours, call them first thing in the morning.
Now you can brush your teeth and clean the area where the filling is chipped. This is very important because gaps in fillings are a magnet for food particles, bacteria and germs. Brush the area gently and remove any food debris, then rinse your mouth with a solution of warm salt water (one cup warm water and a teaspoon of salt).
If the area where the filling has chipped has become irritated or painful, many cosmetic dentists recommend clove oil to dull the pain. Place a small amount of clove oil on a cotton swab and lightly dab it over the area. Clove oil is usually available at grocery stores and pharmacies.
Do not use household glues or other store-bought adhesives to repair the chipped filling yourself. This is extremely dangerous. Wait until you see your cosmetic dentist and they will take care of repairing the filling.
What your dentist will do
When you have your dentist appointment to repair your chipped filling, X-rays will be taken in order to map out the area and figure out the best treatment. Your cosmetic dentist will determine if the chip can be fixed with the same filling materials or if the entire filling needs to be replaced. If an infection is present in the area where the filling is chipped, the tooth may need to be extracted. A root canal may also be needed, depending on the state of your mouth. However, if you have decent oral hygiene and you have brushed and rinsed the area, it should be free of food debris and bacteria.