Fillings are designed to repair small areas of tooth decay. The size of the filling is often determined by the amount of decay in the enamel as well as the location of the tooth. Even though fillings are designed to last a long time, it is not uncommon for an older filling to fail, causing it to chip or fall out. As a general rule of thumb the older and larger a filling is, the more likely it is to fail.
In some cases, you can might notice a difference in the filling shortly before it fails. Pain in the filling during chewing is a sign that the old cement is breaking down allowing the filling to wiggle a little in the socket. This might also be accompanied by a slight gray color in the nearby enamel as invasive bacteria gain access to new parts of the tooth. Lingual fillings, near your tongue, might also develop an edge or a change in texture.
When a filling falls out, the dentist must remove more enamel to create new surface area to cement a larger filling in place. Small fillings can sometimes, simply be replaced with a slightly larger filling. However, if a large filling falls out there might not be enough strong, healthy enamel left to properly cement a new filling in place.
In a situation like this your dentist will often recommend that the tooth be fitted for a crown. This is a procedure where most of the enamel is removed from the tooth and a new artificial tooth is cemented over the abutment of the root.
Early resolution is important for effective repair of the tooth. If you have a filling that you suspect is about to fail or one that has recently fallen out, please call us at 830-268-4447 to schedule an appointment.