Signs You Are Losing a Filling

How do you know that you are losing a filling?


How long do fillings last?

We wish fillings would last forever, but they are actually temporary. The life of a filling depends upon the filling material, the condition of the tooth, your oral hygiene practices, and the foods and beverages you consume. In general, a dental filling can be expected to last for 5 to 10 years. Some fillings can last as much as 15 years.lost dental filling - paid - shutterstock 108759404


What causes a filling to go bad?

All fillings will weaken over time. Large fillings are more susceptible to damage and loss than smaller ones. Many factors contribute to weakening our fillings, including

  • Bruxism – Teeth grinding can seriously damage fillings in molars (in particular).
  • Accidents and trauma
  • Using your teeth as tools (opening things with your teeth)
  • Poor oral hygiene – The bacteria and acids in your mouth will damage the seams where the filling meets tooth material
  • Dry mouth
  • Smoking, and
  • Alcohol consumption.

How do I know I’m losing a filling?

There are a number of common signs and symptoms of a loose, weak or lost filling. Among the most common are:

  1. Pain in the tooth (often aching) similar to that of a new cavity.
  2. Increased sensitivity to heat or cold, sometimes the sensitivity will be triggered by sweets, as well. Loss or damage of the insulating enamel allows temperature changes to the tooth’s pulp, which causes the pain.
  3. Pain or discomfort when eating. Food particles or liquids can creep under the compromised filling.
  4. The contours of the tooth feel different. Often, your tooth will feel that the surface texture of the tooth is different. It is likely that your tongue will be drawn to that tooth.
  5. Change in your bite. When you close your mouth, the way your teeth fit together (occlusion) may feel different.
  6. Discoloration. Some dental fillings become discolored when they are decomposing. Sometimes they will appear dark; sometimes they look yellow.
  7. Biting down on the hard piece of filling that has fallen/is falling out of the tooth. This often happens when people are eating hard or chewy foods.
  8. You feel a hole in the tooth where the filling has been dislodged.
  9. Food becomes stuck in the crevices of the tooth.
  10. Floss Shedding. This is a common way to discover damage to fillings between teeth. These are difficult to see. When your dental floss shows signs of shredding when removed, it is likely because the edges have become rough and are catching the dental floss.
  11. Bad breath/bad taste. You may notice that you still have bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth after brushing. This is caused by the decay that is occurring around the margins of a loose filling.

What do I need to do?

The most important thing to do is to call right away and make an appointment to see your dentist. If you have lost or are losing a filling, the sooner you address the problem the less likely it will cause significant damage.

It is also important to see your dentist to confirm that a weakened filling is the problem. There are other dental issues that can cause most of these symptoms. You will want to address any other problems (an abscess, for example) as soon as possible to limit damage to your teeth and gums.

For future reference, you might want to try to consider your activities and the foods or beverages you have consumed that caused or contributed to the loss of the filling. If you know what caused the problem you can avoid that behavior and protect other fillings.

Once the immediate problem with the filling has been addressed, it is wise to schedule and keep appointments with your dentist and/or hygienist twice each year. Additional filling weakening is often identified during these exams. Addressing them as soon as possible may minimize damage to the tooth.