A root canal treats and repairs a severely infected or damaged tooth. During this procedure, your dentist removes the infected tissue inside the pulp chamber, then sterilizes and seals the space with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. Your dentist then applies a temporary filling to restore the tooth structure and function while your tooth heals and any infection subsides.
At your follow-up visit, your dentist then applies a permanent filling (in some cases, a crown) to keep bacteria and food debris out of the tooth, preventing further decay and strengthening the tooth structure.
You shouldn’t delay getting a permanent restoration on the treated tooth, but your dentist may recommend waiting a couple of weeks to ensure there are no further problems with the tooth. If your root canal filling fell out before your crown is fitted, return to your dentist to fix the filling to prevent bacteria from re-infecting your tooth.
Permanent fillings and crowns are not designed to last forever. Most tooth-colored dental crowns last up to 15 years, while a dental filling without the protection of a crown can last approximately 10 years. If your root canal filling falls out due to general wear and tear, or facial trauma, it can leave your tooth vulnerable to decay, infection, and discomfort.
Learn what can cause root canal fillings to fall out and how to get it fixed.
What Can Cause a Root Canal Filling to Fall Out?
Several common causes can lead to your root filling falling out, including:
- Poor dental hygiene: Proper oral hygiene is essential to keep your teeth and gums healthy. When you fail to brush and floss properly, bacteria accumulate and cause further decay or infection of the remaining tooth structure.
- Wear and tear: If you grind your teeth, clench your jaw, or bite on hard objects, it can cause undue pressure and premature wear and tear on the filling.
- Faulty seal: If the dentist does not properly seal the tooth after a root canal procedure, bacteria may enter and cause decay.
- Improperly cleaning root canal: If your dentist did not remove all the necrotic tissue from the root canal, or another root canal in the tooth becomes infected, it can erode the remaining tooth structure, causing the filling to become loose.
- Poor quality materials: If the dentist uses inferior materials or techniques to fill the tooth, it can cause the filling to come out.
Symptoms of a Missing Root Canal Filling
If your root canal filling has fallen out, there are a few symptoms you may experience, including:
- Sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures
- Pain or discomfort when biting down on the affected tooth
- Tooth discoloration
- Swelling or tenderness in the gum near the affected area
- A foul taste in your mouth
My Filling Fell Out of My Root Canal: What Next?
A missing root canal filling leaves the tooth vulnerable to infection and decay. If bacteria enter the space where the filling was, it can cause an abscess in the gums or jawbone. This is extremely painful and may require surgical drainage and antibiotics to prevent tooth loss.
Following these steps can help preserve your tooth and prevent further damage until you visit your emergency dentist.
Call an Emergency Dentist
A missing dental filling is considered a dental emergency. Immediately contact an emergency dentist to get an appointment. The longer you leave your root canal exposed, the higher the risk of re-infection.
Rinse Your Mouth with a Salt Water Solution
Rinse the affected area of your mouth with salt water three to four times daily and after eating. This reduces swelling or discomfort and eliminates any bacteria or debris. Mix ½ teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water and swirl it around your mouth for 30 seconds before spitting it out.
Manage Any Discomfort
Over-the-counter pain medications, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can help temporarily relieve some discomfort. You can also use an ice pack intermittently on the outside of your cheek near the affected area to reduce inflammation and soreness
Seal the Tooth
To protect your tooth from further damage or sensitivity, use dental wax to seal the tooth until you can visit a dentist for treatment. Apply a small portion onto the affected area and press down gently to create a protective barrier against food particles or other irritants.
Avoid Eating on the Affected Side of Your Mouth
Avoid eating on the side of your mouth where your root canal filling fell out until you can see a dentist for treatment. If possible, modify your diet by switching to softer foods, such as soups and mashed potatoes, as well as liquids like smoothies and juices until you receive proper care.
Treatment Options for a Missing Tooth Filling
Once you have taken the necessary steps to protect your tooth, it is essential that you seek professional dental care. The treatment options Owens Cosmetic & Family Dentistry provides include:
Root Canal Re-treatment
Root canal re-treatment is used to access and reseal an already-treated root canal. This procedure is usually recommended when a previous root canal fails or becomes re-infected.
During the procedure, the dentist removes the remaining filling material gutta-percha. They clean out any debris inside the root canal before refilling and sealing it.
Re-Filling the Tooth
Re-filling involves removing remaining fragments of the old filling, cleaning out any debris, and then applying new materials into the cavity to restore its original shape and size.
Owens Cosmetic & Family Dentistry uses metal-free filling materials to give you the most natural smile. Our fillings are crafted from either tooth-colored composite resin or translucent ceramic to blend seamlessly with your remaining teeth and offer exceptional durability.
Placing a Dental Crown
If there is too much damage to the existing tooth structure, the dentist may recommend placing a dental crown. During this procedure, the existing tooth is shaped before taking impressions to create a mold for your custom-made crown.
The mold is sent to an off-site fabrication center, and once ready, it is cemented over your existing tooth structure using a strong adhesive for maximum protection and durability.
If your tooth is severely damaged and cannot be saved, you may need an extraction. During this procedure, the dentist uses a dental elevator and forceps to remove the tooth from its socket.
Following an extraction, your dentist may recommend dental implants to replace the tooth and prevent bone resorption. The implants are surgically placed into the jawbone and function and look just like your natural teeth.
Visit Owens Cosmetic & Family Dentistry
Contact us at (248) 626-0772 for an appointment.