A temporary filling, as the name suggests, is a type of dental filling that is intended to be used temporarily or short term. Overall, a temporary filling may be placed as part of an ongoing dental treatment, with an intention to be replaced with permanent treatment later on.
Why are temporary fillings used?
Sensitivity/toothache in a tooth – a temporary filling may be placed to alleviate symptoms in the short term until a more permanent filling can be placed
In cases of deep cavities – a temporary filling may be placed by a dentist to monitor the tooth until further appropriate treatment can be decided upon
Lack of time – a temporary filling may be placed until a permanent filling can be placed at a more appropriate time
As part of ongoing dental treatment – some dental procedures, such as root canal treatment and crown placement, require a temporary filling/crown be placed as part of multiple treatments required to complete a procedure
Protection of teeth – a temporary filling may be placed in a tooth to protect it while patients decide on long term treatment
Anxiety management – temporary fillings can be placed in patients who suffer from dental anxiety as a means of addressing their dental issues (i.e. broken/sharp tooth) and easing them into dental treatment. It reassures patients and better prepares them for permanent treatment
What should I do if a temporary filling falls out?
Don’t stress! As with any dental filling, a temporary filling can be replaced. It is important that the tooth is reassessed by your dentist promptly to prevent further breakdown of the tooth. Failing to seek reassessment by a dentist may result in:
Discomfort – the broken/missing filling may create sharp edges and rough surfaces that can be uncomfortable if in contact with the cheek, tongue or lip and may ultimately create an ulcer
Further deterioration and fracturing of the tooth – if the tooth breaks down further it may require more treatment to fix (i.e. larger filling or crown). In addition, if a tooth breaks down too much it may become unrestorable and may have to be extracted
Finally, don’t panic if you lose a temporary dental filling! Call your dentist as soon as possible and make an appointment to have the situation addressed.